I am applying to an Ivy League university in the US as an international student for a Ph.D. program. They have application fee waivers for students with financial hardship.

Would using it (or even asking for it) have negative effects on the result of application?

They also have a GRE waiver for these type of students too. I believe this one does affect the result. Am I right?

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    I would expect that the applications are processed in such a way that the committee who makes the decisions doesn't know whether or not the fee was waived, though I don't know for sure. Maybe someone with firsthand knowledge can confirm. Of course, if the GRE was waived then the committee will certainly see that you don't have a GRE score. How this would affect their decision is hard to judge, since different departments may weigh GRE scores in very different ways. Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 5:04

2 Answers 2


I'm pretty sure that the application fee at an Ivy League school isn't seen as a revenue generator. It is more so that they get only thousands of applications rather than millions each year. People in the US with no chance whatever of admission are less likely to apply and tie up the system if there is a fee. It also helps fund the admissions system itself.

The barriers for international students are higher in any case due to travel, immigration rules, economic differences, etc. The fee waver is there to encourage more foreign students so that they get hundreds of applications, rather than tens. There would be no reason for them to prejudice an application asking for fee waver if they actually want to encourage foreign students. The same is possibly true of GRE wavers - encourage foreign applications. Most US schools and all top level schools want to encourage a diverse student body.

The GRE may also be harder to take (and relatively more expensive) for some foreign students, but without it the admissions people will need other evidence that they can predict success for a student.


The people in the program will evaluate and score your application.

They won't know whether the fee was waived, nor are they likely to care.

They will know if there is no GRE score. For some programs the GRE score is important, for others it is not.

You will need to ask the programs that you are considering what there policy is. GRE waivers are usually in lieu of other evidence (such as a strong work history, previous graduate degree, performance on some other graduate test (MCAT, GMAT, etc)).

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