October 2, 2015

New application platform to target low-income students

The University will be among the first to adopt a new college application system, “Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success,” an alternative to the Common App and Universal App. James Nondorf, dean of college admissions and financial aid, will serve as the president of the board for the organization launching the new platform.

Designed by The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, the platform will be free to use in order to allow more low-income students the opportunity to apply to top private schools and large research institutions. Students are still subject to application fees if they do not qualify for waivers based on financial need.

“Some of our most important goals are to reduce the stress of applying to college and to make that process more accessible for students from diverse backgrounds,” Nondorf said in a statement to The Maroon.

The Coalition application will launch for some of the 83 public and private institutions around the U.S. that have signed up during the 2016–2017 application cycle, according to a September 28 press release from the Coalition. Some schools will start using it at that time, while other institutions have not announced when they will begin accepting these applications.

Nondorf noted that he is “excited and proud” that the University is a part of that coalition.

Public institutions in the program must have need-based aid and affordable tuition; private institutions must meet the full demonstrated financial need of all domestic students. All schools that accept the new application will need to have graduation rates of at least 70 percent.

The new system will allow students to start their college application process earlier with a number of tools in place to help high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors map out their admission and financial aid process.

“The online tools—which will include a digital portfolio, a collaboration platform, and an application portal—seek to reshape the process of applying to college as the culmination of students’ development over the course of their high school careers, reducing the unfamiliarity of the application and leveling the playing field for all students,” according to the press release.

The Coalition hopes that the new platform will encourage students, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds, to take a more active role earlier on in the application process.

Nondorf noted that the adoption of the new application is an extension of recent initiatives to enhance college access and affordability for students of diverse backgrounds. The No Barriers initiative, which launched for the Class of 2019, and UPromise are other recently created or expanded programs aimed at increasing socioeconomic diversity and helping lower- and middle-income students.

“It’s about making sure that we’re finding talented students wherever they may come from, and that we’re contributing to a society that appreciates what higher education can do to transform young people’s lives,” Nondorf said.

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