MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — About 60 colleges and universities across Alabama are waiving their application fees for just this week.

Students at St. James School in Montgomery are encouraged to apply broadly to schools ahead of graduation. That cost can sometimes add up.

“It’s like $40 per application,” Senior Ethan Beard said.

Beard began picking out the schools he was interested in last fall.

“Auburn, Troy, South Alabama, UAB, University of Huntsville, and Alabama also,” Beard said.

When the free college application week came around last October, he took advantage of it, applying to eight schools on the list.

“I saved about $320,” Beard said.

Now months away from graduating, Beard’s applications paid off.

“I plan to attend the University of South Alabama. I plan to study optometry and a little bit of business,” Beard said.

The State Department of Education partners with about 60 colleges across Alabama and the surrounding states to make this week possible. They’ve been doing it for the last ten years.

During the free application week last fall, more than 26,000 students participated.

“There are lots of families who can’t afford to think of multiple, probably one, college application,” Alabama Possible Executive Director Chandra Scott said.

Scott says this week removes a big barrier to some students seeking higher education.

While she says college may not be for everyone, an application fee shouldn’t be the reason someone doesn’t apply.

“Education is not just a ticket, but it is definitely a pathway to a career that could lead to a high wage, high demand career across our state,” Scott said.

The state Department of Education holds these weeks twice a year, once in the fall and now in the winter.

For a full list of schools participating, head here.