Academic Fee Waivers

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), Public Law 108-447, provides the National Park Service statutory authority to allow outings conducted for non-commercial educational purposes by accredited academic institutions to obtain a waiver of park entrance fees.

Commercial enterprises are not eligible for fee waivers, but school groups using a commercial vehicle for transportation only may apply for a fee waiver.


Academic Fee Waiver Criteria for Applicants

National Park Service (NPS) regulations allow school groups and other bona fide national and international academic institutions to obtain a waiver for park entrance fees, provided that the visit is for educational credit or scientific purposes, and the resources or facilities the group proposes to use support those purposes.

Academic fee waivers are not granted automatically. Applicant groups must show they qualify for the waiver. There are three criteria the group must meet to qualify for an academic fee waiver: eligibility, educational purpose, and relevance of park resources or facilities. These criteria are detailed below:

Academic Fee Waiver Criteria

1. Eligibility

Applicants must prove they are a bona fide academic institution by submitting one of the following:

  • A statement confirming educational or scientific tax-exemption from the IRS or the applicant's national, state, or local tax authority; or
  • A statement, from a bona fide academic institution, confirming that the group is visiting for the purpose of providing transferable educational credit based on a curriculum; or
  • A statement of accreditation, or recognition as an academic institution, from a recognized national, regional, state, or local authority at the applicant's location.

2. Educational Purpose of the Visit

Applicants must provide a written statement confirming that the visit supports a specific curriculum for which academic credit is offered. Commercial enterprises are not eligible for fee waivers, but groups using a commercial vehicle for transportation only may apply.

3. Relevance of Park Resources or Facilities

Applicants must provide a written statement identifying the park resources and/or facilities that will be used to support the educational purpose of the visit, and how they are relevant to that purpose.

If you meet the criteria above submit the following to the address below. Please allow 3 weeks for processing. Please do not submit the application criteria/guidelines pages.

  1. A cover letter, on letterhead, explaining what the educational purpose is and how it is related to park resources. (A general statement that the visit is for “educational purposes” is insufficient.) If your group is using a commercial tour company, the group (not the company) must apply for the fee waiver, and must state how the tour supports the curriculum.
  2. Current, official documentation of eligibility such as described above. It is insufficient to merely state or imply this on the organization’s letterhead. Your fee waiver request cannot be approved without one of these documents.
  3. Provide the name of the course and a brief description. The applicant must be providing educational credit hours based on a specific course of instruction.
  4. Please include the name and correspondence address of the institution; contact name(s) with telephone/fax number(s) and email address; date of arrival and departure; approximate number of vehicles; areas you plan to visit; and approximate number of students and chaperones, including faculty.
  5. State in your letter that you understand fee waivers are allowed only for academic institutions that are using the park for educational purposes and the planned trip meets these requirements. Students must be receiving academic credit for their visit in order to qualify for an academic fee waiver.
  6. Mail or email all documentation detailed in the “How to Apply for an Academic Fee Waiver section above to:

    Visitor Services Office
    P.O. Box 168
    Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
    Phone: (307) 344-2109

    We no longer wish to receive faxes. To save paper please use email when possible

    Email replies may take 5-7 business days. Again, please allow 3 weeks for processing. Typically fee waivers are processed and returned well within that time.

  7. Please provide a copy of the approved fee waiver for each vehicle in the group.

Academic Fee Waiver Application Guidelines

The number of adult sponsors or faculty included in a fee waiver is limited. Please use a guideline of one adult sponsor or faculty per 5 elementary school students; 10 high school students; 20 college students. Specific district, local or state policies and safety standards will be considered.

Number of vehicles: Due to high visitation and limited parking at popular sites in Yellowstone vehicle caravan size under a fee waiver is restricted.

Adults and/or vehicles not included in the fee waiver will be required to pay the per vehicle or perperson fee, depending on vehicle size.

A separate fee waiver is required for Grand Teton National Park.

Academic Fee Waiver Application (42 KB PDF)


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