If you’re concerned about finances as you’re applying to business school, affording the GMAT fee can be a serious challenge. After all, the GMAT is expensive: It costs $250 to take the exam, and you’ll have to pay the full fee every time if you want to take the test more than once.
Unfortunately, GMAC doesn’t offer GMAT fee waivers directly to applicants, but you do have options for getting your GMAT fee waived or reduced. In this article, I’m going to talk about your options for GMAT fee waivers, how to get them, who qualifies, and other money saving tips to make your GMAT prep more affordable and accessible.
What GMAT Fee Waivers Are Available to Me?
GMAC doesn’t offer GMAT fee waivers directly to applicants, so if you’re looking to have your GMAT fees reduced or waived, you’ll need to work directly with schools.
GMAC provides GMAT exam vouchers to schools based on request. Each school can request up to 10 GMAT exam vouchers per year. These vouchers waive the GMAT exam fee for an applicant.
GMAC encourages schools to offer these fee waivers to economically disadvantaged students, but it’s up to each individual school to decide who gets a fee waiver.
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How Can I Get a GMAT Fee Waiver?
Schools offer GMAT fee waivers in one of two ways. First, some schools offer GMAT fee waivers to their currently enrolled students or alumni. Second, some schools offer fee waivers to applicants to their business programs. Both ways require you to submit a supplemental GMAT fee waiver application. Let’s examine each of those options a little more closely.
Method 1: Getting a GMAT Fee Waiver From Your Undergraduate Institution
Some schools, like MIT, offer GMAT fee waivers to undergraduate students and recent alumni.
In order to apply to these GMAT fee waivers, you need to have graduated or be on track to graduate from an undergraduate college or university that offers GMAT fee waivers.
You can find more information about whether or not your school offers fee waivers to enrolled students or alumni by visiting the school’s Financial Aid Office website or calling the office directly.
Method 2: Getting a GMAT Fee Waiver From the Business Program You’re Applying To
Other programs, like the University of Rhode Island, offer GMAT fee waivers to prospective candidates. You do not have to have attended these schools as an undergraduate to apply for a fee waiver. You do, however, need to apply to these schools as an MBA candidate.
You can find more information about whether or not the schools you’re applying to offer GMAT fee waivers by visiting the school’s Financial Aid Office website or calling the office directly.
If you’re still an undergraduate student or a very recent alum (<2 years from graduation), I would recommend applying for a fee waiver from your undergraduate institution first, if your undergraduate institution offers fee waivers. You’ll be able to more easily access information about fee waivers by visiting your on-campus financial aid office and you may even have relationships with financial aid counselors that you can use to your benefit when submitting your application.
If your undergraduate institution doesn’t offer fee waivers, make sure to research the policies of the programs that you’re applying to so that you can find out which programs offer fee waivers.
Regardless of whether you apply for a fee waiver from your undergraduate institution or from a program you’re applying to, make sure that you complete the GMAT fee waiver application as soon as possible. Remember, each school only offers a maximum of 10 fee waivers and many are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Who Qualifies for a GMAT Fee Waiver?
According to GMAC, fee waivers are designed for economically disadvantaged students. However, GMAC states that each individual school is free to come up with its own definition for “economically disadvantaged.” What does this mean?
First of all, it means that you should apply for a GMAT fee waiver even if you’re worried you might not qualify as “economically disadvantaged.” If you’re rejected from one program’s fee waivers, you may be accepted at another’s.
Secondly, it means that every school will have different criteria for determining economic need. Most schools require applicants for fee waivers to submit a statement of financial need. In this statement, you should describe, in detail, your economic situation and why paying for the GMAT fee will be difficult for you. The more honest and clear you are, the better a scholarship committee will understand your unique situation.
In general, people who qualified for need-based financial aid as undergraduates or people who make below a certain income threshold may qualify for fee waivers. However, because each school has its own criteria, it’s hard to make a general statement about who should apply for a GMAT fee waiver or who will definitely receive one.
Which Schools Offer GMAT Fee Waivers?
Unfortunately, there is not a comprehensive list of schools that provide GMAT fee waivers. Business programs need to apply every year to get more fee waivers, so the availability of fee waivers changes often. For the most up-to-date information, you can check the financial aid section of a program’s website or call the admissions office to find out more.
How Else Can I Save Money Preparing for the GMAT?
While obtaining a GMAT fee waiver can be difficult and time-consuming, there are plenty of other ways that you can save money while preparing for the GMAT.
#1: Use Free and Low-Cost Study Materials
There are many free and low-cost study materials out there, ranging from complete GMAT study plans to extremely specific quant section drills and covering everything in-between. There are free PDFs, free apps, free websites… basically, there’s a lot of free information out there. Furthermore, spending just $20-30 can be enough to get access to a bunch more great resources. Check out our guide to the best GMAT books or our guide to the best online practice for the GMAT to learn more.
#2 Keep Extra Fees Down
You can rack up expenses extremely quickly as you study for the GMAT. You can spend money sending your scores to more schools or taking the exam more than once. Do your research so that you know exactly which schools to send your free score reports to, and study with the aim of hitting your goal score the first time around. Doing so will save you from spending extra money down the road.
#3 Apply for Application Fee Waivers
Many schools offer application fee waivers for students with demonstrated economic need. You’ll need to apply for an application fee waiver, much like you’ll need to apply for a GMAT fee waiver, but because each school determines its own number of application fee waivers, you may have a better chance of getting this fee waived.
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Application fee waivers are also much more common than GMAT fee waivers, so you have a better chance of scoring one if finances are a concern.
Curious about other free GMAT prep options? Check our guide to the best GMAT apps, many of which are free.
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Carrier pigeon? Snail mail? Email? In our complete guide to sending GMAT scores, we breakdown how and when your GMAT scores will be delivered to business schools.