2017 ACT Costs, Fees and Waivers

Learn How Much You'll Pay to Take the ACT and Report Your Scores to Colleges

The cost of standardized tests can be significant during the college application process.
The cost of standardized tests can be significant during the college application process. Caiaimage/Chris Ryan / Getty Images

Students taking the ACT college entrance exam in the 2017-18 academic year will need to pay $46.00 for the basic ACT or $62.50 for the ACT with writing. The true cost of the exam, however, is likely to be much higher because most students take it more than once, and a significant percentage of applicants will need to purchase additional score reports. A typical applicant will spend well over $100 on the ACT during the college admissions process.

 

The table below presents the costs of ACT exams and services for the 2017-18 admissions cycle. I've also included information on fee waiver availability. You'll see that ACT costs are similar to SAT costs.

ACT Costs, Fees, and Waiver Availability
Product/ServiceCostFee Waiver
Available?
ACT Exam (no writing)$46Yes
ACT Exam with writing$62.50Yes
First four ACT score reports$0Free
5th and 6th score report add-on$13 eachNo
Re-register by phone$15No
Late registration$29.50No
Standby testing$53No
International testing$47.50No
Test date change$25No
Test center change$25No
Test information release$20No
Addition score reports$13No
Priority score report$16.50No

The True Cost of the ACT?

Your actual cost for the ACT will obviously depend upon a few factors:

  • How many colleges you apply to. ACT covers your first four score reports in the exam fee, but here again applicants to selective colleges typically apply to more than four schools. Read To How Many Colleges Should You Apply to learn more about the issue.
  • Whether or not you need priority score reporting. Priority score reporting guarantees your scores will be processed within a couple of days. This option can be important when the test date is close to the application deadline, a situation that can easily be an issue for students applying Early Action or Early Decision.

    Sample ACT Cost Scenarios:

    The following situations are typical and illustrate the wide range of ACT costs students might accrue during the college admissions process.

    • Scenario 1: Gwen is applying to three regional universities within an hour of her home. She takes the ACT (without writing) once at the end of junior year, and her scores are in the upper range for admitted students at two of those universities. She decides not to take the exam again senior year. Gwen's three score reports will be free, so she simply needs to pay the ACT exam fee. Gwen's Total ACT Cost: $46.
    • Scenario 2: Antonio is applying to six colleges, and none of them require the writing section of the ACT. His top two colleges are highly selective, and Antonio worries his scores from junior year won't be high enough to get in. He studies over the summer and retakes the exam his senior year. He will need to pay for two administrations of the ACT (at $46 each) as well as two additional score reports (at $13 each). Antonio's Total ACT Cost: $118.
    • Scenario 3: Aleksandra is an ambitious student applying to a few of the country's most selective colleges. She took the ACT her sophomore year for admission to a summer program, and she then took it again with the writing section in both her junior and senior years. Because the colleges to which she is applying have such low acceptance rates, she is applying to 11 colleges and universities including one through Early Decision that will require a priority score report. Aleksandra's costs really start to add up. She has one ACT (at $46), two ACT with writing (at $62.50 each), 6 regular additional score reports (at $13 each) and one priority score report (at $16.50). Aleksandra's Total ACT Cost: $265.50.

      For students applying to highly selective colleges, Aleksandra's situation is not uncommon, and ambitious students should plan on budgeting a couple hundred dollars for the ACT. Also keep in mind that the ACT is just one piece of the standardized testing equation for college admissions. For top schools, applicants may also need to take SAT Subject Tests and Advanced Placement exams. The latter are pricey, and it isn't unusual for academically strong students to spend upwards of $1,000 on standardized testing during the college admissions process.

      Can You Get Your ACT Fees Waived?

      Fee waivers are available for the ACT and the ACT with writing. Qualifying students can get two waivers. You'll need to talk to your school counselor to learn about ACT fee waiver eligibility guidelines, for waivers are granted through your school, not through the ACT website.

      The ACT is a bit stingier with fee waivers than the SAT, for ACT waivers do not cover additional score reports. This can be a burden for academically strong low-income students. If you need more than four score reports but can't afford them, be sure to talk to your school to see if assistance is available.

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      Grove, Allen. "2017 ACT Costs, Fees and Waivers." ThoughtCo, Jun. 19, 2017, thoughtco.com/act-costs-fees-and-waivers-4122131. Grove, Allen. (2017, June 19). 2017 ACT Costs, Fees and Waivers. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/act-costs-fees-and-waivers-4122131 Grove, Allen. "2017 ACT Costs, Fees and Waivers." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/act-costs-fees-and-waivers-4122131 (accessed January 24, 2018).