For the Kiamsiap: How to save money in US college applications

How to save money in US college applications

by Andrew Loh

For the Kiamsiap.

*Reposted from here (written 2007)

(In Malaysian schools — if you’re studying overseas, some limitations might not apply)

As of December 25, 2007, MACEE is offering their Opportunity Initiative Award.
If you do get this award, it can pay for everything.
If you don’t get this award, then everything in this article still applies to you.


When you apply to US colleges, you will have five major expenditures.

1. Standardized Testing: SAT/ACT
2. Language Proficiency Testing: TOEFL/IELTS
3. Score Reports for Testing(s)
4. Application Fees
5. Postage

I offer you choices; choices you can take to minimize your costs.


1. Standardized Testing (unwaivable)

You’ll have to pay this in full. While the College Board (SAT) and ACT have ostensible fee waivers, they are only for American students.

2. Language Proficiency Testing (waivable)

This is optional, in my experience. TOEFL and IELTS are evil money-sucking companies. I emailed the colleges:


To whom it may concern,

I am an international applicant and I scored a 35 on the ACT English section. I speak English at home, and it is also the language I am most proficient in. Can the TOEFL requirement be waived?

Thank you,

Andrew Loh



Hi Andrew……ABSOLUTELY!!!! With a 35 on the ACT English section, we
will not need to see a TOEFL score. Thanks for asking.
Then don’t worry about it. If your first language is English then don’t worry about the TOEFL.
We can waive TOEFL. Please once again remind us regarding your request for the waiver after we have received your ACT results and your application.
The test is waived if students have a score of 670 or higher on the SAT Critical Reading Test.

From my CommonApp:

Note that by definition, my “mother tongue” is Chinese, whereas my “first language”, “language spoken at home” and “language most proficient in” is English, and my “medium of education” is Malay.

P/S Nag: You’re applying to US unis lah. Take lah some initiative. And muka tembok=good. Jangan shy shy.

3. Score Reports for Testing(s) (unwaivable)

Again, evil corporations.

4. Application Fees (waivable)

I received fee waivers from all the schools to which I applied with this request.


First Name:
Middle Name:
Last Name:

Combined family annual income:

Number of dependents listed for tax purposes:

Additional circumstances:

The total fee for all college applications, postage of supporting documents and score reports would be approximately USD ___ . At the current exchange rate of _____ Ringgit Malaysia to one USD, the sum would be approximately equivalent to RM ____ – an enormous amount of money – about a ____ of ___’s family’s monthly income. A waiver for application fees would greatly alleviate this financial hardship.



SMK Bunuhlah Pengetahuan Moral

If applicable, you can include other arguments. These could be country-specific (macro) or family-specific (micro).

E.g. (choi, 大吉利事):

  • My father just lost his job.
  • My mother was recently hospitalised.
  • My parents have to support all four of my grandparents and my parents are their only children.
  • I work 10 hours a week to support my family.
  • My country’s inflation rate has increased 1000% in the last 5 years because of foolish economic policies.
  • Officials just demolished my house.
  • A big fat recession is hurting my country’s economy — our GDP has shrunk __% in the past __ years.
  • A fire/tsunami/volcano eruption/earthquake destroyed my entire neighbourhood.
  • Et cetera.

DO NOT FORGE this document or make up facts, because you could be thrown out of college if you do. Talk to your counselor before anything, and you might want to include this exact phrase (somewhere) in your request:

“I have spoken to my university advisor about my situation, and he encouraged me to compose this fee waiver request.”

5. Postage (minimizable)

I used Pos Malaysia, normal air mail. Pretty reliable, in my experience, making courier companies like DHL and FedEx and their more expensive charges irrelevant. Remember that application deadlines are based on the postmarks, which mean that if your applications are stamped on Jan 1, it doesn’t matter whether they reach the universities on Jan 3 or Jan 15.


“Sikit-sikit lama-lama jadi bukit.”

Remember that the above are just samples, and that you can and should change phrases/explanations if need be. Personalise your requests.

Also remember that these tips are for Malaysian students applying to US colleges from Malaysian schools, and if you study somewhere else some tips may not be applicable.


Filed under Education

2 responses to “For the Kiamsiap: How to save money in US college applications

  1. Cheng Yin

    Hello, I just wanna confirm with you that you used normal air mail, not pos Malaysia courier service right? I am pretty worried with all the negative feedbacks about pos Malaysia I have seen online.

    Thanks for your reply in advance!

    Please do email me:

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