5 Things You Need to Know About the Common App

Starting the college application process? Get the answers to some COMMON questions!

  • Why should I consider using the Common App? 
  • How do I use the Common App? 
  • Which colleges accept the Common App? 
  • What does it cost to complete the Common App? 
  • When does the Common App open? 

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The Common App, short for Common Application, is a college admissions platform that allows students to apply to multiple colleges at one time.  

Why should I consider using the Common App? 

Not only is the Common App a major time saver, you can use your account to collect all the materials required to apply to college. This may include contact information, high school coursework, honors and awards, list of extracurricular activities, application essays, and test scores (fun fact: the Common App superscores your ACT® test results). You can also invite people to submit recommendation letters using the Common App. 

How do I use the Common App? 

The first thing you have to do is create a profile on commonapp.org, then search for colleges you’re interested in applying to and add them to your list. Once you have narrowed down your list of schools, figure out the different application requirements each college expects, and complete all of the necessary tasks before you apply. Here is a comprehensive overview of the Common App you can use as a guide to better understand the process before you jump in. 

Which colleges accept the Common App? 

There are nearly 900 colleges and universities that accept the Common App. You can explore these “member institutions” by location, campus setting, enrollment size, financial aid offerings, and specialized missions (i.e. religious affiliations). This is a good way to learn about schools, but if a college you want to attend isn’t on the list, don’t let that discourage you from applying.  

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What does it cost to complete the Common App? 

The Common App is a free service, but every college has their own application fees and requirements. Some colleges charge an application fee, and some don’t. You can search for colleges that don’t require an application fee using the Common App explore page. In some cases, eligible applicants can request a fee waiver through the Common App platform. In fact, one way to qualify for the Common App fee waiver is if you received or are eligible to receive a fee waiver for the ACT test.  

When does the Common App open? 

A new version of the Common App is released on August 1 every year. If you already have an account, your information is rolled over into the new app when it’s released. So, if you’re a junior and want to get a head start on collecting ideas and information for your applications, you can create an account and then transfer it to the new app when it opens during your senior year.  

More Resources for College Applications

A list of resources to help you navigate the exciting journey of applying to college.