What Is the Common Black College Application?

Interested in HBCUs? The Common Black College Application makes it easy and more affordable to apply to HBCUs. Learn all about the Common Black College App.

portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Updated September 1, 2022

Edited by Tyler Epps
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What Is the Common Black College Application?
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Since its founding in 1998, over 250,000 students have completed the Common Black College Application. And about 97% of those applicants received an acceptance letter from at least one college.

But what is the Common Black College Application? And how does it work?

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Ready to start your journey?

In a few simple steps, you can apply to more than 65 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The Common Black College App is an easy and affordable way to apply to HBCUs.

How Does the Common Black College Application Work?

The Common Black College Application dates back to September 1998. Founder Robert Mason graduated from two HBCUs: Virginia State University and Clark Atlanta University. Mason wanted to make it easier for students to apply to HBCUs, so he founded the Common Black College App.

You can fill out a single application online to apply to over 65 HBCUs.

Unlike other systems that use a single application, the Common Black College App does not require you to upload transcripts, test scores, or personal essays. Instead, the system streamlines the process by contacting school counselors for information.

Applicants register on the site, provide some required information, and pay a single fee to submit their application. HBCUs then receive your application and make decisions about admission and scholarships.

What Do You Need to Apply With the Common Black College Application?

The Common Black College Application uses a simplified format that applicants can complete in minutes. After creating an account, you fill out a brief online application.

The application includes two options for providing transcript and test score information. You can upload an unofficial transcript and test scores.

You can also provide the email address for your high school counselor. The school counselor can then upload official transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Transfer students send copies of their transcripts directly to HBCUs.

During the application process, you'll list your top four school choices. Those schools will automatically receive your application. You may need to reach out to other schools to inform admissions officers of the pending application.

After submitting your application, you can choose to pay the $20 application fee immediately or wait until a later date. The Common Black College Application does not offer fee waivers for the $20 fee. However, it does raise funds from sponsors to cover the cost for students who may have difficulty paying the application fee.

What Schools Accept the Common Black College Application?

Currently, 67 HBCUs accept the Common Black College Application. These schools include public and private HBCUs.

But not every HBCU uses the application. Before filling out the Common Black College App, make sure to check which schools accept these applications.

The following list includes some of the HBCUs that use the app:

How Is the Common Black College App Different From the Common App?

The Common App inspired the Common Black College App. Currently, over a million prospective students apply to college with the Common App every year. The Common Black College App sees fewer applications. However, that is only one of the differences between the two applications.

Number of Schools

The Common App names over 1,000 colleges and universities as members, while over 65 schools use the Common Black College App. But why do more schools accept the Common App?

In part, the answer comes down to the purpose of each application. The Common Black College Application is specifically for HBCUs. Currently, there are over 100 HBCUs across the country. A majority of these schools accept the Common Black College Application.

Application Process

The application process differs between the Common App and the Common Black College App. For the Common App, students submit transcripts, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, and a personal essay.

In contrast, the Common Black College App only requires some educational information — school counselors can upload official transcripts and test scores. As a result, the Common Black College App can take as little as 10 minutes. You can even complete the application on your phone!

Application Fees

The Common App and the Common Black College App use a different fee structure. While the Common App does not charge a fee, students often need to pay an application fee directly to each college that receives their application. Fortunately, many colleges do not charge a fee.

In contrast, the Common Black College App charges a flat fee of $20.

If you're applying to multiple colleges, you may be able to save money by using the Common Black College Application.

When Does the Common Black College Application Open? When Is It Due?

You can begin filling out the Common Black College Application in the fall for the upcoming admissions cycle. There is no single due date for the application. Instead, you simply need to file your Common Black College App before the deadline set by your prospective schools.

Make sure to check college application deadlines and submit the Common Black College App before those deadlines. After submitting the application, check with your schools about any additional required materials.

For example, some of the HBCUs that participate in the Common Black College App require personal essays. Applicants who file through the Common Black College Application submit supplemental materials directly to the school.

You can track the status of your application through the Common Black College Application portal. The portal shows when schools receive and process the application. Each of the top four schools listed on an application will receive a copy.

Additional schools may decide not to download the application. However, you can contact schools directly to express your interest and ask the school to access your Common Black College App file.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Common Black College Application

How much does the Common Black College App cost?

The Common Black College App currently costs $20. That fee covers the application to 67 HBCUs. You do not need to pay an additional fee to colleges when submitting the application.

The process differs from the Common App, which does not charge a direct fee. Instead, individual schools charge application fees for students who use the Common App.

Prospective college students interested in HBCUs can save time and money by using the Common Black College Application.

Who is eligible to use the Common Black College App?

The Common Black College Application is open to people interested in attending a member HBCU. The organization does not set income or race requirements. Transfer students, international students, and undocumented students can all use the Common Black College App.

Keep in mind, though, that some HBCUs do not use the Common Black College Application. Check the list of HBCU member institutions before filling out the application.

Should you use the Common Black College Application or the Common Application?

Some HBCUs accept both the Common Black College Application and the Common Application. If you're interested in primarily HBCUs, you can save money by using the Common Black College App, which charges a flat $20 application fee.

If you're applying to multiple colleges, including HBCUs that do not participate in the Common Black College App, consider the Common App. Currently, 25 HBCUs accept the Common App.

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