What is the Coalition Application? (Counselor Guide)

What is the Coalition Application?

What is the Coalition Application, you ask? 

It’s one online application that is used by 150+ colleges and universities committed to increasing access to higher education in the U.S. So, yeah, it’s a much smaller pool of schools that the Common App covers. Why? The Coalition will only accept colleges who provide significant support to low-income and/or underrepresented students. Cool, right?

Who can use the Coalition Application?

Both first-year and transfer students can apply to college with the online application. You can be a U.S. citizen, identify as undocumented or currently hold DACA status. You can use the Coalition App if you are an international student as well. Just note that there may be some slightly different questions about citizenship and residency, and you may have additional questions to answer from some of the colleges.

What’s so special about the Coalition Application?

The Coalition’s philosophy is that it’s important to get students engaged in the college application process early. So the application offers a digital storage Locker and Collaboration Space that students can access in the years leading up to the college application process. That’s different from other college applications that you register for in the summer before/fall of your senior year

Like the Common Application, once you’re ready to apply to college, you fill out your personal information, academic history and extracurricular activities once, and the information is accessible to all of the schools on your college list.

As part of the Coalition Application, students will write one 500-650 word essay that will go to all of the colleges to which they apply. You can find a list of the prompts here.

So, what’s the catch?

Many colleges/universities that use the Coalition Application also have a school-specific addendum where you’re asked about information not already covered on your main application. This is where you list the major(s) that you are considering, whether or not you are applying for need-based financial aid and/or are interested in merit scholarships, and, here’s the catch…..

Some of these schools will ask for an additional written response, or two, or three…They range from questions like Please briefly elaborate on an extracurricular activity to describe the world that you come from. Some schools don’t require any additional writing, and others have a very meaty supplement (ahem, Stanford, we’re looking at you).

How much does it cost to use the Coalition Application?

Technically, the Coalition Application is free to use. You can create an account, add colleges and enter as much content as you like. However, when you’re ready to submit your application, many schools require payment that can range anywhere from $20 up to over $100. Two pieces of good news:

  1. Some schools don’t have an application fee. Thanks to schools like Carleton!

  2. You can request a fee waiver in the Profile section of the application if you meet certain economic requirements, and you don’t need to provide any documentation or verification. How easy is that?

Are there schools that ONLY use the Coalition Application?

University of Washington, Seattle is the only Coalition-exclusive application this year. To apply to the University of Texas, Austin, you can use either the Coalition Application or ApplyTexas.

What schools DON’T use the Coalition Application?

It’s true that there are many colleges and universities out there that don’t use the Coalition Application. Here are a few examples:

  • Large public state university systems including the University of California

  • Many private universities that prefer the Common Application

  • Some private universities that use their own application, like MIT and Georgetown

  • U.S. Military Academies

Do colleges prefer the Coalition Application or the Common Application?

Never fear. Just because the Common App wins the popularity contest in terms of the number of colleges that use it, doesn’t mean that it’s a better option. Colleges don’t prefer one of these applications over the other. They just want to get a full picture of who you are, and both platforms allow you to do just that. So, if you’re applying to UW, then you’re definitely using the Coalition Application. If not, you might be looking at the Common Application. 

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