Envelope blues
October 1, 2006 6:00 PM   Subscribe

I have an envelope that's about 10"x13". Inside, I have maybe 15 pages of college application materials. And I have $3.90 in stamps. How the hell do I know how much postage I need for this thing? Should I try to figure it out myself, or should I just take it to the post office and have them figure it out?
posted by punishinglemur to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
Yes, take it to the post office. For a college application, don't mess around.
posted by joannemerriam at 6:02 PM on October 1, 2006

Five pages of regular 20-pound paper is the most you can fit in an envelope with one stamp (that is, under one ounce). I'd say 3 ounces worth of postage ($0.87) would probably do you. If the paper's the good stuff, it might not hurt to throw an extra stamp on there.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 6:06 PM on October 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

They have digital scales that compute postage at almost every post office I've been to recently.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:15 PM on October 1, 2006

Best answer: If your post office is anything like mine (...in America), there will be a shiny ATM-like "Automated Postal Center" machine. Stick the envelope on the scale, enter the destination ZIP code, and choose how fast you want it to get there. It'll tell you the cost right there! Choose an option and it'll print a nice stamp label for you, or just remember the number, add the appropriate number of stamps, and you're done!

Or you could just slam all $3.90 on it in a neat pattern, stick up the flag-thing on your mailbox at home to let your letter carrier and be glad you live in a country where mail gets delivered at all.

You can also get something called signature confirmation, which is proof that your mail got there, for a few bucks or less, I think.

Good luck with your application!
posted by mdonley at 6:19 PM on October 1, 2006

For a college application, don't mess around.

Let me repeat this, with a personal anecdote. I had the opportunity to do an all-expense paid year abroad in Germany, it was a no-brainer, but someone (it wasn't me) shorted the postage, all the forms got returned, and I never went to Germany.
posted by whatzit at 6:27 PM on October 1, 2006

Yes, take it to the post office.

But if you're curious, if you're in the US, and if you know the weight of your entire package (envelope + the 15 pages), you can use the US Postal Service's online calculator here.
posted by amtho at 6:52 PM on October 1, 2006

When I recently applied to law school, I alllllways chose one of the confirmation of delivery options. You should be wasting your time worrying over whether you got in, not whether they even got all of your materials! It's definitely worth a dollar or two for the peace of mind.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 7:16 PM on October 1, 2006

Very good point, wuzandfuzz. Yet another reason to go to the post office.
posted by smackfu at 7:30 PM on October 1, 2006

:) nope, it's "Dude! Get a lawyer NOW!"

But yeah, the delivery-confirmation option you want is Return Receipt Requested, and it's surprisingly cheap (absolutely worth it for something of this importance).
posted by allterrainbrain at 11:40 PM on October 1, 2006

If it's less than .75 inches thick, it's a flat. It has personal information in it, so it MUST be sent first class, priority, or express. The rates for first class are:.39 for the first ounce, and .24 for every ounce over, so a 3 oz flat is .87. If you have an ounce scale, you can figure out the postage. It's perfectly fine if you overpay, but don't underpay or it will be returned to you.

I am a postal clerk, but it's way past my bed time. Put your trust in this information accordingly
posted by faceonmars at 12:03 AM on October 2, 2006

Gosh, college applications get harder and harder every year!
posted by DenOfSizer at 10:08 AM on October 2, 2006

I just weighed 15 sheets of paper and an envelope and it was 3.06 oz. Four oz will cost you $1.11.
posted by faceonmars at 12:46 PM on October 3, 2006

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