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6 November, 2023

How to Get an OAT Fee Waiver?

Taking the OAT can be expensive but there are ways to reduce the cost through a partial fee waiver. In this article, we will walk you through how to apply for a partial registration fee waiver for the OAT.
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The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is a standardized and computer-based 5-hour long test required by most optometry schools for admission. Registration for the test costs $510.00 USD and it is administered by the American Dental Association (ADA) on behalf of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). Because of the steep registration fee, the ASCO provides a 50% partial waiver for the registration cost. The entire application and testing process for all professional schools, including optometry, can be lengthy and costly. If you are planning to pursue optometry but the fees are holding you back, this is the perfect way to cut down on the costs and ease the application process for you. In this article, we will walk you through 5 steps to getting your OAT fee waived.

1️⃣ Note Your Timeline

Before you apply for the partial OAT fee waiver, keep in mind that you must submit your waiver application and hear back before you can register for the OAT itself. Also, there are a limited number of waivers available per calendar year (January to December), and it is given on a first-come, first-serve basis. The OAT is a lengthy test that requires at least a few months of preparation and registration ahead of time to ensure you can schedule an optimal time for your exam. At the same time, it can take up to almost a month to hear back about your partial fee waiver request. Therefore, it’s important to plan ahead – figure out when you want to take the OAT and how much earlier you should register for it. Then, you can work backward to figure out how early you would need to submit the partial fee waiver request and how early you would need to start working on your waiver application. We offer a detailed guide on strategizing your OAT test date, which can be found here. Keep in mind there are a limited number of partial fee waivers available for each calendar year and they are granted starting in January, so we would suggest that you start on your waiver application in November or December of the year preceding the year you plan to take the OAT in!

2️⃣ Meet the Requirements  

To be eligible to apply for the waiver, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be registering for and taking the OAT for the first time
  • You must not have previously received the partial fee waiver
  • You must be either a U.S. citizen or a foreign national
  • You must have demonstrated financial hardship
  • You must have received financial aid from your school

Make sure you fulfill all of the requirements above before starting your application.

3️⃣ Complete the Form

Head to to download the Financial Information Form. The form is shown below, and it asks for documents such as a financial aid award letter (showing a breakdown of the different grants, scholarships and/or loans you have received) or a tax return form if you have not received any need-based financial aid. It also requires you to fill out information such as your OAT PIN and anticipated sources of financial aid for the current academic year (financial awards, gross earnings, and other resources). In addition, you must write a personal statement of a maximum of 750 characters to explain your need for the partial fee waiver. Organizing your financial forms and sources of financial aid can take some time, so be sure to plan ahead and start early. This will also allow extra time to edit your personal statement or ask others for feedback to increase your chances of receiving the partial fee waiver.

4️⃣ Submit the Form

Once your documents are ready and the Financial Information Form is filled out, you can submit it all to

5️⃣ Cross Your Fingers

Once your documents and forms are submitted, you will have to wait for the OAT Program to review your request. It can take up to 10 business days to hear back about the approval or denial decision on your application, but it can take up to 20 days or more during the busy season. Specifically, January has been consistently busy with OAT and fee waiver applicants every year, so you may have to stay put for a bit longer if you submit your request at this time. Aside from the documents and personal statement you must submit, there are a limited number of waivers available for each calendar year, so cross your fingers!

👉 Conclusion

Once the form is complete and submitted, all that’s left to do is register for the OAT and prepare for the exam itself. For more information on the OAT, read our other articles: How to Register for the OAT, Strategizing Your OAT Test Date, How Is the OAT Scored, and What Is a Good OAT Score. Good luck!