How to Self-Report Test Scores Without Breaking the Bank
When you're going through the college application process, there seem to be fees flying at you every step of the way. Luckily, one of those fees seems to be on its way out. A growing number of schools are now accepting self-reported test scores during the application process instead of an official score report from the testing agency.
It currently costs $12 to send out a report from the College Board and $13 for a report from the ACT. That adds up quickly when you're applying to multiple schools, especially when you've already been doling out cash for test registration fees and application fees.
Don't worry — colleges are aware of this — that's why many of them are shifting their admissions policies to allow students and/or their high school counselors to self-report SAT and ACT scores during the application process. What this means is that you don't have to send out an official score report to each college -- a move that may ultimately save you a few hundred dollars.
Remember: Each School May Request Different Formats
Check out this list of schools that accept self-reported scores from both the student and the high school counselor. It helps that each of the listed schools allow students to self-report in a variety of ways, so you can usually choose whatever works best for you. Depending on the school, your test scores can be sent in as a screenshot (when you log into the College Board or ACT website to check your scores online) or as a PDF attached to an email, sent via fax or as a photocopy via regular mail. Some schools also allow students to write in their test scores on the Common Application or the school's own application. Check the admissions pages of the schools where you've applied or call the admissions offices to find out which methods of self-reporting are acceptable.
Sounds pretty great, right? Just remember that regardless of which method you use to self-report your scores, if you are admitted and decide to enroll, you will still need to submit an official score report to that college for verification purposes.
For example, Iowa State University will “admit students based on self-reported GPA and test scores in the Common Application or on the school's application, but the official transcript and scores are required later" if the student is admitted and wants to enroll, says Phil Caffrey, director of admissions operations and policy at Iowa State.
In an ideal scenario, all the colleges where you plan to apply will allow you to self-report scores, and your high school provides those test scores on your official transcript. That means you never have to pay for an official score report from the College Board or ACT. Or even if your high school doesn't provide it for you, you'd still only have to pay for one official score report ($12 or $13) to verify your self-reported scores once you are accepted and decide to enroll.
Of course, it's likely that many of the colleges you are interested in may not yet be on the list mentioned above. In that case, double-check the school's admissions page online and call the school's admissions office directly to ask about self-reporting. You can also contact the school to explore other options for reducing the fees involved in the application process.
Consider This on Test Day
You might be wondering, “Hey, but what about those four free reports I get to request during test registration?" Yes, it's true that when you sign up to take the SAT or ACT, you are currently allowed to mark down four colleges where your official score report will be sent for free.
However, you will be sending out your official scores sight-unseen. Unless this is your last time taking the test, or you are extremely confident that your score will be what you want it to be, then these colleges might receive test scores that you don't really want them to see. Many test prep experts agree that this free option is to be avoided unless you list four colleges that are your safety schools.
Before you break open the piggy bank, however, keep in mind that starting in the 2018-2019 academic year, both the ACT and SAT will allow students who received a fee waiver when registering to take the test to send 20 free score reports from the ACT and unlimited free score reports from the College Board for the SAT.
Self-reporting is a simple way to send out your scores and save money in the process. When you take the time to look into fee waivers and fee reductions, it can really help you fling some of your financial woes aside so you can focus more on what really matters — getting into your dream school.