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Cost for graduate school: More than just tuition

Students oftentimes spend more than $300 preparing for and taking the LSAT. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

For students considering graduate school, the sheer cost is one of the main concerns that crosses potential applicants’ minds.

But before even paying tuition, potential students need to consider costs of application fees, graduate admission test fees and study tools when budgeting for the application process.

Application Fees

Costs of application fees vary from school to school, but a typical fee costs around $50, according to a report from the U.S. News and World Report. However, more than half of schools charged $70 or more in 2016-17.

For most students, that’s not a one-time fee.

According to GradSchools.com, students are encouraged to apply to three to eight different graduate programs, which could end up costing students more than $500 just in application fees if they spend an average of $70 per application.

Applicants who are members of a particular demographic or need financial support usually can receive a fee waiver that allows them to apply to the program at a reduced cost or for free.

For example, the Law School Admission Council website says it created a fee waiver program “to assure that no person is denied access to law school because of the absolute inability to pay.”

Graduate Admission Test Fees

What master’s or doctoral programs a student is considering determines which of the graduate admissions tests they will need to take — this will affect how much the student needs to budget.

Students sending test scores to the recommended three to eight schools are expected to spend $205 to $700 on reporting fees, including sending the scores to the schools.

The most common of the graduate admissions tests is the Graduate Records Examination. The general test costs $205, which includes sending scores to four schools. According to the Educational Testing Service, sending additional sets of scores costs $27 each.

But this cost can be waived. ETS has a GRE fee reduction program that helps lower the cost “for individuals who demonstrate financial need and for national programs that work with underrepresented groups.” The waiver pays for half of the test fee, according to ETS.

The Graduate Management Admission Test costs $250 and includes sending scores to five schools. It is $35 for each additional set of scores, according to the Master in Business Administration website.

According to LSAC, it costs $190 to take the Law School Admission Test, which includes one score report, with an extra $45 for each set of scores sent. On top of taking the LSAT and sending the scores, the Credential Assembly Service — the LSAC service that processes transcripts, letters of recommendation and other documents for law school applications — costs $195.

But students can apply for the LSAC waiver that covers the costs of two LSATs, one CAS registration and four CAS Law School Reports.

The Medical College Admission Test costs $315, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, but the score is automatically sent to all American Medical College Application Service-registered schools.

The AAMC offers a fee assistance program that helps students pay for the MCAT who otherwise would not be able to take it, including reducing the registration fee to $125.

Study Prep Materials

Before students apply for graduate school — even before they take a graduate admissions test — they have to study. And most study tools cost money.

Many of the graduate admission test websites have online stores where a student can purchase study tools. Aside from test prep books, the websites also offer free digital options for students that help prepare them for the test, but are not as comprehensive as the official books they sell.

The GRE’s test prep book, “The Official Guide to the GRE,” is $40 on its website, and it provides hundreds of test questions, explanations for answers and test-taking strategies. Its online option, “POWERPREP,” is free and “gives you the experience of taking the real, computer-delivered GRE General Test,” according to the website.

“The GMAT Official Guide Bundle 2019” provides more than 1,500 practice questions from previous exams and costs $71.95 on MBA’s website, which also offers the “GMAT Official Starter Kit and Practice Exams 1 & 2” for free online.

One of the featured LSAT test prep books is “The Official LSAT SuperPrep,” which is available for purchase on Amazon for $23.80. As for its free test prep option, LSAC partnered with Khan Academy — a non-profit educational organization that produces online video lessons — to offer free LSAT prep materials on its website.

The AAMC website offers an array of free online test prep handbooks that act as guides for preparing for the MCAT, but the “Complete Official MCAT Prep Bundle” costs $268, which includes over 2,200 unique practice questions.

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