Academic Fee Waiver

Three yellow school buses in parking area near a sand dune
Students visiting White Sands get to experience an area so unique they may carry the memories with them throughout their lives.

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Educators, make an adventure out of learning. Join us at White Sands for amazing educational opportunities to engage your senses and intrigue your students.

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 academic fee waivers. School groups using a commercial vehicle only for transportation may apply for an academic fee waiver.

Not-for-profit groups such as service, civic, fraternal organizations, scouts, 4-H, rotary, Road Scholar etc. do not qualify for the academic fee waiver unless the group meets the applicable criteria below.

Academic Fee Waiver Criteria

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:

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 academic fee waivers. School groups using a commercial vehicle only for transportation may apply for an academic fee waiver.

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 explain how park resources or facilities are relevant to that purpose.

How to Apply for an Academic Fee Waiver

If you meet the criteria above, submit your application following the step below at least two weeks before your field trip.

1. Completely fill out the academic fee waiver, which is available for download at the bottom of this page.

2. Accompany the academic fee waiver with a lesson plan on letterhead, accreditation letter, or tax-exempt letter.

3. Email fee waiver and other necessary documentation to Academic fee waiver applications must be submitted two weeks before your field trip date. Email replies may take 3-5 business days. Again, please allow two weeks for processing. Typically academic fee waivers are processed and returned well within that time.

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

4. Expect an email from the park 3-5 business days after you have submitted your fee waiver. This email will include your approved fee waiver or explain what information is still needed to process your request.

5. The number of adult sponsors or faculty included in a fee waiver is limited (see below for more information). Once you have received your waiver, you will make one copy of the fee wavier for each approved adult sponsor or faculty. The number of approved adult sponsors or faculty will be noted at the bottom of the fee waiver. Fees will only be waived for the approved number of adult sponsors of faculty. Any sponsors or faculty over that number will be required to pay the normal entrance fee. If your school requires more chaperones please include that information when you submit your fee waiver.

6. Upon arriving at the park you will need to show your fee waiver to the ranger at the fee station. They will take the copy that you present to them and your group will be able to proceed in to the park.

Chaperones, Faculty, and Adult Sponsors

The number of adult sponsors or faculty included in a fee waiver is limited. Specific district, local or state policies and safety standards will be considered. The chart below is the average of the surrounding local school districts standards for the ratio of chaperones to students for school field trips. The chart will be used to determine the number of adults that will be covered by the fee waiver permit obtained by the schools.

Any adults (age 16 and older) above the ratio will be asked to pay the fee to enter the monument. White Sands National Park encourages parents to join their children for the school field trips. Parents should be notified that they will need to pay park entrance fees if the maximum number of chaperones per student ratio is exceeded on any given field trip.

Grade Level Students per Chaperone Divide total # of students into ratio = # of chaperones
Elementary (K-5) 5 to 1 25 students = 5 chaperones
Middle School (6-8) 10 to 1 50 students = 5 chaperones
High School (9-12) 15 to 1 60 students = 4 chaperones
College 20 to 1 40 students = 2 chaperones

Academic Fee Waiver Application

If You Have Additional Questions...

Please contact us and write “academic fee waiver” in the subject line.

Last updated: April 1, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 1086
Holloman AFB, NM 88330


575 479-6124

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