Academic Fee Waivers

People stand around a telescope at night.
At Death Valley, students can experience some of the darkest night skies in the US!

NPS/Kurt Moses

Applying for a Fee Waiver

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 schools or bona fide academic institutions” to obtain a waiver of park entrance fees. The National Park Service considers applications and may approve a request if the visit is for educational or scientific purposes and the resources or facilities that the group intends to use support those purposes.The National Park Service does not grant academic fee waivers automatically. Applicants must show that they qualify for a fee waiver. There are three requirements (listed below) to qualify for an academic fee waiver:

Criteria #1 - Eligibility

National or international applicants must prove they are a school or bona fide academic institution by submitting one of the following types of documentation:

  • 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 meeting one of these eligibility standards, confirming that the group is visiting for the purpose of providing transferable academic credit based on a curriculum; or

  • A statement of accreditation or recognition as an educational institution from a legitimate international, national, regional, state, or local authority for the applicant’s location. It is insufficient to merely state or imply that you have this recognition.

Criteria #2 - Educational purpose

  • Applicants must provide a written statement (documentation) verifying that the visit supports a specific curriculum for which academic credit is offered. Documentation such as the course syllabus or a copy of the school’s course catalog or handbook will satisfy this requirement.

Criteria #3 - Relevance of park resources or facilities

  • To simply state the trip objectives are for “educational purposes” is insufficient. There must be a direct relationship between the purpose of the visit and the use of the park. 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. A course outline, lesson plan, or copy of the course curriculum meets this requirement.

If you meet these criteria, read the information below carefully and fill out the Fee Waiver Application Form.

Provide a detailed itinerary with the application:

  • Applicants must provide an itinerary stating the date of arrival, areas to be visited each day the applicant is in the park, and the date of departure.

An academic fee waiver automatically covers two chaperones. Additional chaperones must fall within the below ratios. Groups requesting ratios outside the approved amounts must address why and will be approved/denied on a case by case basis.

Chaperone/Student Ratio College 9th -12th 6th - 8th K-5th
Minimum 1:30 1:15 1:10 1:7
Maximum 1:20 1:10 1:5 1:3

Submission of Applications

  • The Fee Office must receive all applications for fee waivers at least one month prior to anticipated visit. Applications that are incomplete may be denied.

Please email applications all required documentation to:

Death Valley National Park
Fee Office, Academic Fee Waivers

Additional Information:

  • Groups arriving without an approved fee waiver will be charged an entrance fee.

  • When a planned visit is recreational, you enter as an “organized non-commercial” group.

  • Fee Waivers are for educational use and is restricted to observation only. Any ground disturbance requires a research permit and proper NEPA and Section 106 Tribal and Historic Preservation Office consultation.

  • Service, civic, and fraternal organizations e.g. Scouting, Rotary, Elks, etc. do NOT qualify for an Academic Fee Waiver, unless they meet the Fee Waiver Qualification Standards listed above.

  • As they are already exempt, bona fide educational groups of children less than 16 years of age do not need a fee waiver, however a waiver is required for the free entry of adult chaperones. A reasonable number of chaperones, drivers, and teachers will be admitted free to accompany the students.

  • Pursuant to the FLREA, academic fee waivers are granted only for entrance fees and do not apply to Expanded amenity or camping fees. Group camping reservations may be made for the Furnace Creek Campground at or 1-877-444-6777.

  • Currently, Scotty’s Castle is closed due to flood damage; no Castle waivers will be approved. There is an additional fee waiver application to visit Scotty’s Castle; this can be granted after the initial waiver has been approved. Please contact the Castle directly to apply, specifying the date and time you would wish to take a tour of the facility.

For further assistance, contact the Fee Office at 760-786-3203.

Last updated: May 1, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 579
Death Valley, CA 92328


760 786-3200

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