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Duke University
Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

The Coalition App: Everything You Need to Know

More than 140 colleges and universities use the Coalition Application. Its popularity is growing with each admissions cycle, as more schools plan to use the Coalition Application in upcoming years.


While not as established as the Common App, the Coalition App offers major perks when it comes to financial aid. Here’s what you need to know if you plan on using the Coalition App and tips to make your application as strong as possible.


What is the Coalition App?


The Coalition App is administered by the Coalition for College Access, which was founded recently in 2015 by leaders of college administrations and admissions. It was designed specifically to make the college application process accessible for first-generation, lower-income, or under-resourced students across the nation.


It accomplishes this by streamlining the application fee waiver process for low-income students, making it easier for them to apply without causing financial strain on their household. The Coalition also has set high standards with their partner schools to help admitted students graduate with little to no debt by offering generous financial aid packages. Partner schools are also required to help students identify and apply for financial aid that they may qualify for.


The format of the Coalition App is similar to many other college applications, including the Common App and school-specific application systems. It includes standard things like personal information, essay prompts, and extracurricular involvement. Like the Common App, you have the benefit of filling out this information once and copying it to multiple schools.


Unique to the Coalition App is an extracurricular section for “family commitment.” As part of their commitment to making college more accessible, students who had to forego more traditional extracurricular activities to support their families are allowed to describe those commitments in this section. It also includes a Locker tool, where students can collect and store important information starting in 9th grade, so you don’t forget to include them on your college application.

Who Should Use the Coalition App?


The Coalition App is geared towards students who are traditionally underrepresented in colleges or face significant financial challenges. If you feel that this describes your situation, you may want to consider using the Coalition App.


That said, the Coalition App is not limited to students who are lower-income and first-generation. You should make a list of the schools you’re interested in beyond which application they use, and then note how many use the Coalition App, the Common App, or a school-specific application portal. After doing this research, you may want to alter your list based on which application is used to minimize the amount of applications you need to fill out.


For more information about how to decide whether you should use the Coalition App or not, check out our post Common App vs. Coalition App: Which to Use?


Which Schools Use the Coalition App?


As more schools offer the Coalition App, you may wonder why they are making the switch from offering only the Common App or their school-specific portal. A practical reason schools may offer multiple application portals is to minimize technology failures, especially around application deadlines, by spreading out applicants over multiple application portals.


However, many schools use the Coalition App to attract a greater number of qualified applicants, especially from diverse backgrounds, by offering an application that suits students’ needs. Lynn Barnes, the Director of Admissions at Texas A&M, had this to say: “We saw the Coalition as an opportunity to reach students who might not have considered our institution as an option. It has allowed us to expand the Texas A&M brand and to increase access for students across the country.”


At least 1 public institution in every state uses the Coalition App, and many top schools use it. Here’s a list of some of the top schools that use the Coalition App to give you an idea of its popularity:


  • Columbia University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Duke University
  • Emory University
  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Virginia
  • Yale University

Tips for Completing the Coalition App


Here are some of our top recommendations to make sure that your Coalition Application is as strong as possible.


Brainstorm essay responses. The Coalition publishes their essay prompts online, so you can begin thinking about your essay before your senior year. Make sure that you highlight your unique strengths, experiences, and insight in your essay, and have someone who can help you craft a strong essay. This could be a community leader or mentor, a work supervisor, a guidance counselor, or a trusted teacher (especially English teachers).


Take advantage of the Locker tool. Especially if you are an underclassmen, you should register for a MyCoalition account (it’s free!) and begin filling up your Locker with awards, recognition, and your current involvement. Make sure to add to it throughout your high school years so you don’t accidentally omit anything on your application. Plus, you can include this information on any college application, even if the school doesn’t use a Coalition App.


Research school-specific admissions requirements. You’ll want to make sure that you take a look at the admission requirements directly from the individual school’s website. Although the Coalition App will auto-populate any additional essays or evaluation forms required by the college, it’s a good idea to know what the average GPA and test scores of last year’s class were. Some schools include specific insight into the type of student they’re looking for, or you can connect with current students and alumni to increase your chances of admission. We’ve created a guide on How to Write the Coalition Application Essays.


Team up with your school counselor. Your school counselor will be responsible for providing school reports, transcripts, and often a recommendation to each of the schools you apply to. By connecting with your school counselor as early as possible, you increase the chance that the recommendation they write will be strong and unique.


For more information on college applications and financing college, check out these posts:


A User’s Guide to the Common Application

What is ApplyTexas? What Colleges Use It?

15 College Scholarships for High School Juniors

50 Colleges with Full-Ride Scholarships


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Short Bio
Gianna Cifredo is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she majored in Philosophy. She has six years of higher education and test prep experience, and now works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and is a proud cat mom.