FreeApp FAQ

FreeApp FAQ

What is the FreeApp fee waiver program?

The Big Ten Academic Alliance FreeApp program is designed to increase access to graduate education for students who bring qualities and experience that will enhance the diversity of graduate students at Big Ten Academic Alliance universities. Through this program, you can request a fee waiver for your application to Ph.D. or Master of Fine Arts programs at Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions.

Who is eligible to apply for a FreeApp waiver?

To be eligible to submit a FreeApp waiver request form, you must meet all of the criteria listed below. Each university has additional local criteria they use to identify those that will be granted a FreeApp waiver.

  • Complete a bachelor's degree by August preceding enrollment in the graduate program
  • Apply for admission to a Ph.D. program or Master of Fine Arts program
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Intend to pursue an academic and/or research career
If I meet the Big Ten Academic Alliance eligibility criteria, will I automatically receive a fee waiver?

No. Each institution grants FreeApp waivers according to local criteria and on a case-by-case basis.  Only students who are admitted to graduate programs receive waivers.

I earned my bachelor’s degree over a year ago, can I still request a fee waiver through FreeApp?

Yes. You must have earned your Bachelor’s degree prior to the term you enroll in graduate school.  

I am an undocumented or DACA student, can I request a fee waiver?

Undocumented and DACA students are not eligible to request fee waivers using the Big Ten Academic Alliance request form. Contact the campus FreeApp Coordinators to inquire about additional fee waiver options.

I am not a member of a minority group. May I still apply?

Yes. The program seeks to increase graduate school access for students from groups underrepresented in graduate education, including minority students, first-generation college students, and students from low-income families, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Is there a deadline?

Priority is given to requests submitted by November 15.  FreeApp requests are processed throughout the year. Note, however, that the University of Minnesota has a deadline of November 15.

How do I request a FreeApp waiver?

Complete the online request form. The form can be accessed from the Big Ten Academic Alliance FreeApp program website.  We do not have a paper request form. 

You are responsible for obtaining graduate applications directly from the institutions where you plan to apply. Consult the list of participating universities on the FreeApp website.

Is there one request form for all of the universities?

Yes. All participating institutions accept the Big Ten Academic Alliance request form.

How many schools may I select?

There is no limit to the number of schools you can select.  Be aware that schools give priority to applicants who present a good match to their graduate programs.  You should research the individual programs to see which is a good fit for your goals and interests.

How will I know if my request has been accepted?

Requests will be fulfilled continuously throughout the year.  Generally, if your request has been accepted, the university will contact you approximately 10 days after they have received your request.

For the University of Michigan, please follow the instructions provided HERE.

Who should I contact to inquire about my status if I have not heard back from the university within 10 days of submitting my request?

Big Ten Academic Alliance FreeApp requests are awarded by each campus individually. The Big Ten Academic Alliance does not make any decisions on awarding fee waivers, and the Big Ten Academic Alliance does not have status information. To inquire about your status, you must contact the campus FreeApp Coordinator at each campus.

Should I apply to the university prior to receiving my FreeApp confirmation?

You should not submit a credit card number to pay for the application fee if you are expecting to receive a FreeApp fee waiver.  Your payment cannot be reimbursed.  If you have not received application instructions and the graduate application deadline is approaching, you should contact the campus FreeApp Coordinator to inquire about how to apply.

I'm having technical problems with the request form, what do I do?

Please send an email to  Include your name and a description of the problem.