The Common Application, also known as the Common App, makes it easy to apply to multiple colleges using one application. Is your dream school a Common App college? Here’s everything you need to know.

The Common Application

What is the Common Application?

The Common Application is a single online college application form used by over 900 colleges and universities. Instead of filling out the same general information—like your address, GPA, and extracurriculars— a dozen times, you only have to do it once. The Common App dashboard also helps you track necessary application documents (like your letters of recommendation) and important deadlines.

What colleges use the Common App?

Common App colleges are a varied list of institutions: private, public, big, small, engineering colleges and liberal arts schools. Check out the full list of the 918 Common App schools.

When does the Common App open?

Get ready for application season! The Common App goes live every year on August 1.

When is the Common App due?

Your application deadline depends on whether you are applying early decision (typically November 1) or regular decision (typically January 1). Deadlines also vary by school, so be sure to check dates for every college you are applying to. You can find application deadlines (plus tons of school information) in our online college profiles.

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What are the Common Application essays?

You’ll submit one essay through the Common Application for all your schools. Some colleges may ask you to also answer a few supplemental questions. Check out previous Common App essay prompts now so you can start strategizing about which essay to write.

Do you apply for financial aid through the Common App?

The financial aid process begins with filling out the FAFSA and is separate from submitting your Common App (and with different deadlines!). Learn everything you need to know about financial aid.

What does the Common App cost?

The platform itself is free to use, but every college charges their own application processing fee (usually $30 to $75 for U.S. applicants and more for international applicants). You can apply for a fee waiver if you need one.

How do you apply to Common App colleges?

Follow these steps to apply to college through the Common Application.

1. Create a Common App account.

All you need is an e-mail address to get started. You'll be prompted to create a login and password and to answer a few quick questions about who you are (parent, teacher, or counselor) and when you're applying to college.

2. Confirm which of the schools on your list accept the Common Application.

Not all schools accept the Common App. Colleges may require that you fill out their own application form or ask you to use another application system like ApplyTexas for Texas colleges. Add schools that interest you to the My Colleges list in your Common App account.

3. Review the admission information for every school you are considering.

Keep in mind that Common App schools can have different writing, testing, essay, and letter of recommendation requirements. Make sure you do your research! You’ll use the same Common College application form but admission requirements may differ from school to school.

For example, one college may require the SAT, while another school might be test optional. Many schools will ask you write essays in addition to the Common App essay or have additional college-specific questions for you to answer. You’ll be able to submit all of these extras through the Common App dashboard.

4. Gather the information you KNOW you’ll need

For the most part every application will ask for a copy of your high school transcript, a list of your extracurriculars, and information about your parent or guardian's educational background and work history.

5. Start working on your application

Your Application Dashboard will show all your colleges and the status of each component of your application. Pick an essay topic, start filling in general information, or ask a teacher for a letter of recommendation. There's no college application task too big or small!  

6. Track the status of your application(s)

The icons on your Dashboard are there to guide your way. A green check means your work has been submitted to that particular college, a yellow circle means your application is still in progress, and a red dash means that a particular section is not required for admission to that college. 

6. Submit!

Submit all your application materials by 11:59pm (in your local time zone) on the deadline date posted in your Common App Dashboard.

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