In September, a group of 80 public and private colleges and universities — a list that later expanded to 93 — announced they were forming the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success to offer an alternative college application platform to the Common Application. By allowing students to start compiling materials in the ninth grade, the coalition’s application is meant to get students thinking about college earlier, which coalition members believe will bring more first-generation students into higher education.
The coalition’s application was tentatively scheduled to launch in April of this year but was pushed back to July. In April, the coalition ignited some debate after it was announced that a few dozen member institutions would not be using the application in its first year. While many high school guidance counselors voiced their frustration over the mixed messages, coalition leaders reassured counselors, students, and parents that this would not be a setback.
“The decision of whether or not to go live this year with a coalition application is largely driven by the technology resources at individual member schools and being able to support a new application this coming cycle,” James Nondorf, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid at the University of Chicago, told Inside Higher Ed in April. “Some members must also engage their public legislatures, and that requires more time.”
One impetus for launching the new application platform was technical glitches experienced with the Common Application in 2013. The Common App — which is accepted by nearly 600 colleges and universities — will still be used by many coalition member schools, in conjunction with the new application.
Now, the coalition has announced that 58 colleges and universities will be accepting student applications through the new platform this year, with 36 additional members pledging to begin using the application in the 2017-2018 academic year. Member schools are those that have been deemed to have affordable tuition — or offer sufficient financial aid — and graduate at least 70 percent of their students in six years.