Fee Waiver Program 

Help open doors to independent schools.

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Access to testing, applications, and independent schools must be fair and equitable.

EMA is proud to offer all member schools free access to our Fee Waiver Program, which provides more than $2 million in waived fees for numerous EMA products and services for students eligible for the program. 

Member schools can distribute fee waivers directly and electronically to eligible families at no cost to the school. The goal: to break down barriers to independent school enrollment.

Going into this admissions season, 36% of A Better Chance applicant families indicated they expected someone in their household to be laid off or furloughed, and 22% indicated that financial pressures may make independent schools unfeasible. Because of EMA’s waivers, A Better Chance was able to assure parents their children would have the opportunity to sit for the SSAT despite the financial hardships they anticipated.

Benjamin Bingman-Tennant
National Director of Programs
A Better Chance
See it in action

Here’s how it works:

It is up to each member school to establish a family’s financial need. While fee waivers are provided at no cost to member schools, the program is funded by EMA with the intent that waivers are fairly distributed only to eligible families. In addition, member schools have the ability to issue application fee waivers for their SAO applications as they deem necessary.


Determine a family’s eligibility.

There are tons of multi-purpose options.
All fee waivers are electronic and easy to manage from your MAP. 


Auto-generate a fee waiver in your Member Access Portal (MAP).

There are tons of multi-purpose options.
Should a student in need prefer to take the test multiple times, additional fee waivers can and should be provided.


Email students their fee waiver information.

There are tons of multi-purpose options.

What’s Included

  • An SSAT fee waiver applies to the test fee only — it does not cover late fees or service fees. 
  • An SSAT fee waiver can be used for any digital or paper-based SSAT. 
  • SSAT fee waivers also include SSAT Practice Online and Admission Academy. Please note that families can only access these services after they’ve registered for the SSAT using a fee waiver.
  • The Character Skills Snapshot fee waiver covers the test fee for this assessment
  • The SAO fee waiver covers the EMA administrative fees for each school application
  • Fee waivers are not available directly from EMA, the provider of the SSAT.
  • Fee waivers are available to all U.S., Canadian, and International applicants.

"In my experience working with students from socioeconomically challenged backgrounds, the entire prep school application process feels to them like they are entering a dark labyrinth. At each turn, they fear they will encounter yet another setback! These are fears admission counselors can allay if each member of the admission staff is briefed and knowledgeable of how efficiently and effectively to procure fee waivers for students who require them. Let’s all strive to be a thread for those who may be wandering blindly."

Dr. Erin Avery, CEP
Avery Educational Resources

Guidelines to Determine Fee Waiver Eligibility 

While we offer fee waivers to member schools at no cost, we ask that you grant them equitably. The following guidelines will help you determine eligibility.

  • The family’s annual income falls within the Income Eligibility Guidelines set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, or they receive SNAP benefits.
  • They are enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that aids students from low-income families (e.g., Federal TRIO programs such as Upward Bound).
  • They receive public assistance.
  • They live in federally subsidized public housing or a foster home, or they are homeless.
  • They are a ward of the state or an orphan.
  • They are a recipient of Medicaid. 
  • The family is enrolled in or eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

Please remember that fee waiver eligibility isn’t predetermined by a family’s financial need for tuition assistance. We empower our member schools to use your best discretion when awarding waivers.