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Colleges waive application fees for high school students during College Application Week

Alabama high school students applying to colleges throughout Alabama and surrounding states have an opportunity this week to skip the typical application fees.

Alabama College Application Week, which is running from Nov. 4-8, offers high school students in Alabama an opportunity to apply to participating colleges for free. 

“College application fees are one of many barriers for students seeking to continue their education after high school,” said Kristina Scott, executive director of Alabama Possible, the statewide nonprofit coordinating ACAW. “As we build a college-going culture in Alabama, College Application Week eliminates this burden, allowing students to apply to many colleges for free.” 

During ACAW, nearly 50 four-year universities will waive the college application fee for Alabama students.

At Russellville High School, counselor Alissa Moore is coordinating ACAW for RHS seniors. She said 65-70 percent of the senior class of 176 students will apply for college, choosing the “enroll” option of the “three E’s” RHS emphasizes: employ, enlist or enroll.

Moore said the waived application fee is “a great incentive to students,” as the typical fee is $30. For the average senior, who will apply to three or more colleges or universities, that can be a hefty financial burden.

“We’re very thankful the colleges will participate in this – universities and junior colleges,” Moore said.

Colleges participating including Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, Auburn University, Tuskegee University and The University of Alabama, as well as – popular locally – Northwest-Shoals Community College, the University of North Alabama, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Birmingham and Itawamba Community College in Mississippi.

ICC isn’t the only institution from a nearby state joining in the ACAW. Participating colleges span the Southeast, including in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana and Ohio.

Moore said the engineering program at UA has attracted several RHS students this year; a UA recruiter will be visiting Russellville to meet with prospective engineering students.

In addition to UA, representatives from NW-SCC, ICC and UNA will also visit RHS to answer questions and help with applications.

Although Northwest-Shoals has high enrollment from Russellville and Franklin County students, UNA receives the second-most applications from RHS students. ICC appeals to band, cheer and dance line students because of its football program, Moore explained. “This is the first time they have come in (for a school visit),” Moore added. “They have so much to offer students.”

Moore will meet with each RHS student individually next week to help them determine their future plans – which of the “three E’s” they will pursue.

A number of local businesses are donating gift cards and other prizes RHS students can win by mapping out their futures, including Community Spirit Bank, First Metro Bank, Walmart and Papa John’s. “We’re thankful for our supporters,” said Moore, adding those prizes will be announced Friday, to cap off ACAW.

While RHS will boast designated times when Moore and other counselors will help students apply to college, any senior seeking to take advantage of this opportunity to apply to college with no application fee can do so directly through participating schools’ application portals. Alabama Possible has published a list of all participating schools and promotional codes on the organization’s blog,

College Application Week is part of the Alabama College Campaign, a partnership of Alabama Possible and the Alabama State Department of Education. 

“Students need every opportunity to reach their full potential, and earning a college degree after high school graduation is a very rewarding way to accomplish this goal,” said Dr. Willietta Conner, Alabama College Application Campaign coordinator.

The campaign encourages all Alabama students to pursue post-secondary education following their high school graduation.

RHS ties FAFSA Night into ACAW

While waived college application fees provide a benefit to students, RHS counselor Alissa Moore said she is also encouraging college-bound students to pursue all possible financial aid. For most students, that starts with filling out the FAFSA.

“There is so much money not awarded every year, for Pell grants,” Moore sad. “This year I hope to monitor that more closely and help those students … to make sure they realize there is money available to them.”

RHS will host FAFSA Night Nov. 4 to help parents and students who have questions about the FAFSA or need help filling out this application. FAFSA Night, sponsored by Northwest-Shoals Community College, will be from 4-6 p.m. at RHS.