How to Write a Fee Waiver Request Letter

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Enduring a financial hardship doesn’t necessarily mean having to postpone applying for college or receiving medical treatment just because the fees involved seem overwhelming. Writing a letter or filling out an application to have fees waived can result in a reduction of cost, allowing you to pursue an education or focus on your health.

Do Your Research

Many organizations, universities and medical facilities post requirements on their website for qualifying and applying for a fee waiver. Read the instructions thoroughly; every organization has its own list of specific conditions that must be met before a fee can be waived. For example, Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences only accepts waiver requests from U.S. Citizens or permanent residents. If you are an international student, you may be better served through an alternative program; ask your advisor for a list of grants.

Explain Hardship

To have your application, service or admission fee waived at any organization, you must explain why you cannot pay. Keep in mind that you likely will have to submit financial records to prove your economic situation, such as with a student aid report or an income tax statement. Detail the number of people in your family, your income and monthly budget allocation. Clarify any unusual situations that impact your economic position, such as if your wife has a chronic medical problem or you have taken in your nephew.

About You

Tell the school or medical facility a little about yourself, so they understand the person behind the request. Limit this section to one paragraph; state only the relevant facts. For example, for a school application fee, state your intended major and what you plan to do after earning your degree. If you want to study marine mammals, explain that you would like to become a marine biologist and that you are particularly interested in working with dolphins. Provide contact information at the end of the letter, such as your telephone number and email address. Encourage the organization to call or email with any additional questions.

Additional Documentation

Submit any additional documentation with your application that may be helpful in stating your case. If you are applying to college, consider including a letter from your guidance counselor verifying that you qualified for the free lunch program at your school, for example. A guidance counselor also may confirm that the financial status of your family. Additionally, letters or documents from social service organizations that you have worked with can substantiate your financial claims.

Warning

  • Keep the letter clear and concise; the committee will likely have numerous letters to read requesting a fee waiver. Providing your information in a succinct manner allows the reader to quickly read the entirety of the letter rather than be slowed down with pages of irrelevant information.

Act Quickly

Get your fee waiver application in early. Though you may meet the requirements for the waiver, some organizations limit the number of applicants who receive the benefit. Requests are often granted on a first come, first serve basis. Additionally, the earlier you apply, the sooner you will be notified as to whether you did or did not receive the waiver. This way you will have time before the application deadline to raise the funds another way if needed.

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