Have you seen the cost of registering for the GRE and aren’t sure how you’re going to pay for it? Maybe you’ve heard that you might be able to get a GRE fee waiver. It’s true; there is a GRE Fee Reduction Program, but trying to understand how it works can be confusing.
This guide walks you through exactly what the program offers, who is eligible for it, and each step you need to take in order to receive a GRE voucher. We end with other tips for keeping the cost of the GRE to a minimum.
What Are GRE Fee Waivers?
The GRE exam fee is quite expensive ($205 US) and can be difficult for some people to pay for. As a way to try and make the test accessible to all, regardless of their financial situation, ETS offers a partial fee waiver. If you’re eligible for the GRE Fee Reduction Program, you’ll pay just half the registration fee. The reduced cost for the General GRE is $102.50 (instead of $205), and the cost for a Subject Test is $75 (instead of $150). In the next section we’ll discuss who is eligible for these fee waivers.
Who Is Eligible for a GRE Fee Waiver?
In order to be eligible for a GRE waiver, you must meet several requirements, which are listed below. The ETS fee reduction program is only open to US citizens and permanent residents, but you may have other options if you’re an international student.
GRE Voucher Eligibility Requirements for US Test-Takers
- You must be a US citizen or resident alien.
- You must be a college senior or a college graduate not currently enrolled in any classes (undergrad or graduate).
- If you’re a college senior, you must be attending an undergraduate program in the United States, American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico.
- You must also be receiving financial aid through your school, and either be a dependent who has an Institutional Student Information Report (ISIR) that shows your parental contribution is not more than $2500 for the senior year or be self-supporting and have an ISIR that shows a personal contribution of less than $3000 for the senior year.
- If you are an unenrolled college graduate, you must have applied for financial aid and have an ISIR that indicates you are self-supporting and have a contribution of not more than $3000.
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Several programs also make GRE Fee Reduction Vouchers available to some of their members. The organizations are listed below. GRE waivers are not given to all members of these organizations; you’ll need to contact them directly to learn how you can receive one of them.
- Gates Millenium Scholars Program
- GEM: National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science Program
- PREP: Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program
- Project 1000 Program
- Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program (The McNair Scholars Program)
GRE Voucher Eligibility Requirements for International Test-Takers
Unfortunately, ETS does not offer any fee reduction program for non-US citizens and permanent residents and/or people taking the GRE outside of the US. If you fall into this category, this means that you’ll likely have to pay the entire registration fee.
There is one long-shot possibility of being able to take the test for free, however. ETS makes it possible to purchase vouchers for organizations interested in sponsoring students. This is known as the GRE Fee Guarantee Service. These organizations, which could be anything, a person, business, school, etc., purchase a voucher at the full registration price, and then can give that voucher to a test taker so the test taker doesn’t need to pay a registration fee and can take the GRE for free.
For example, a company you or your parents work for could purchase GRE vouchers and give them to employees and their families so they can take a free GRE. Colleges and universities may also do this for students they feel need extra help in paying for the GRE. However, these vouchers aren’t very common, so, unless you know of a place that offers them (such as your current school), you’ll have to pay the entire registration fee.
How to Apply for a GRE Fee Waiver
Follow these steps in order to apply for a GRE fee waiver. Before you get started, know that it will take about 3-4 weeks for ETS to process your request, so don’t leave this to the last minute or you won’t receive a waiver in time.
1. Contact the financial aid office of your current school or alma mater to make sure you meet the eligibility requirements.
2. If you are eligible, the financial aid office will issue you a Fee Reduction Certificate and a copy of your ISIR.
3. Follow the instructions on the Certificate and mail the documents to the address indicated. Faxes and photocopies of the Fee Reduction Certificate are not accepted by ETS.
4. If approved, ETS will send you a voucher/promotional code that reduces your test fee for either the General GRE or a Subject Test by 50%.
The promotional code is only good for one GRE; it cannot be reused. However, if you take a second GRE (General Test or Subject Test) within a year of getting approved for the fee reduction program, you can fill out and submit this form to easily receive another promotional code without having to start the process over again.
Other Ways to Keep GRE Costs Down
Getting a GRE fee waiver can be difficult, and even if you are eligible for one, you’ll still need to pay half the registration fee yourself. That means that it can be helpful to look for other ways to save money on the GRE. Below are four methods for keeping GRE costs down.
Only Register for a Test If You Know You’ll Be Able to Make It
In order to avoid rescheduling and cancellation fees, only sign up for a test center and test date if you’re confident they’ll fit into your schedule. If you think your schedule may change, try not to choose a test date too far in advance in order to minimize the risk of something unexpected coming up and forcing you to reschedule your GRE.
This can be tricky since you run the risk of test dates filling up if you don’t register far enough in advance. (This is particularly true for students taking the GRE outside of the US since other countries often have fewer available test dates).
Try to find a balance between choosing a date before all the slots are filled and after you feel reasonably confident you’ll be able to keep. It can help to regular check test dates before you plan on registering for the test to see how quickly they fill up and, therefore, how quickly you’ll need to register. You can learn more about how and when to register for the GRE here.
Make Use of the 4 Free Score Reports
When you register for the GRE, your registration fee includes four free score reports. You can choose to send your GRE scores to any four schools you want, free of charge. (Sending scores after these for free reports will cost you $27 for each school you send your scores to.) Before you take the GRE, think carefully about which schools you want to send these reports to in order to minimize the chance of “wasting” score reports on schools you later decide you’re not interested in.
In some cases, such as if you’re applying to more than four grad schools, paying for additional score reports is unavoidable, but if you wait to take the GRE until you’ve got a good idea of where you want to go, you can minimize the number of additional score reports you need to send because your four free reports will be sent to schools you’re genuinely interested in and will apply to.
Only Request Rescoring if There’s a Clear Sign Your Test Was Scored Improperly
While it’s possible to request a score review for certain sections of the GRE (depending on whether you take the paper or computer-based version), be aware that receiving a new score is very rare. Even if you score somewhat lower than you expected to, in almost all cases the score is correct which kind of sucks to admit to yourself, but that’s better than throwing more money at something that likely won’t change anything.
The only time you should request rescoring is when something seems wildly incorrect. For example, if you received a score of zero on your essays (which would mean you didn’t write anything) when you know you wrote complete essays.
Keep Prep Costs Low
In addition to the costs of just taking the GRE, prep costs can be incredibly expensive; some tutors and classes cost several thousand dollars. To keep your prep costs down, take advantage of free resources first. See if your local library has any GRE prep books you can borrow, and check out the free GRE study resources offered by ETS. They have some great resources including a breakdown of all the question types asked on the exam, practice problems with step-by-step explanations, and two complete practice tests.
Also, if you’re concerned about money, only take the GRE when you feel fully prepared. If you take the test before you’re ready, you increase the chances of not meeting your goal score and having to sign up (and pay for) another GRE.
Conclusion: Can You Get a GRE Waiver?
If you are planning on taking the GRE and have a high financial need, ETS does offer a GRE fee reduction program. For those who are eligible, you’ll receive a code that reduces the GRE registration fee by 50%, meaning you’ll only pay $102.50 to register for the General GRE or $75 to register for a GRE Subject Test. In order to be eligible, you must be a current college senior or a college graduate who isn’t enrolled in any classes, and you must meet certain financial aid requirements.
There are other ways to reduce the cost of the GRE beyond the fee reduction program. These include only registering for a test if you know you can make it, making use of the four free score reports, and keeping prep costs low.
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