The Coalition Application vs. Common App– have you ever wondered the difference?

Both are single applications for college accepted by multiple universities, and both offer particular universities to require additional questions or essays.

On the surface there are similarities, but also certainly some differences:

The Common Application is 40 years old. Its deadline is 11:59 local time to you (not the school). It’s accepted by 891 colleges (as of 2019)

The Coalition Application, on the other hand, is only 4 years old. Its deadline is Pacific time 11:59pm (good for east coast procrastinators). It currently is accepted at 140+ schools

Coalition distinguishes itself most through its “digital storage Locker” and  “interactive Collaboration Space.” It encourages students to sign up early and use this feature to store important records, awards, papers or other materials that they may want to include in or incorporate into their college application. Coalition also has a goal to improve the college application process for all students, particularly those from historically under-represented groups.

Additionally, it has more specific criteria for its member schools to support this mission. All Coalition member schools graduate students with low-to-no debt, while either meeting students’ full demonstrated financial need, offering low-cost in-state tuition, or providing responsible financial aid packages. In addition, with the Coalition’s simple fee waiver, eligible students do not even have to pay to apply to Coalition schools. The Common Application also offers fee waivers, but their process is less simple as it requires your school counselor to fill out a form. Additionally, Coalition offers more criteria that qualify students for fee waivers, meaning a small number of students who wouldn’t qualify with the Common Application might qualify on the Coalition.

Above all, if you’re considering the Coalition application, the best reason to use it is that one school you’re applying for (or more) will accept it, but not the Common Application.

Notable schools NOT on Common App but on Coalition App:

University of Texas (Austin, Dallas)

University of Illinois

Clemson University

The Coalition Application is required by:

University of Washington

University of Maryland

Virginia Tech

If you’re applying to one of these, it may be easier to apply to all your prospective colleges through Coalition.

Still you may have some schools that accept neither of these two multipurpose applications. These schools require you to complete applications that are specific to their institution.

Some schools won’t take either

University of California



A few more differences.


Both applications ask for activities. But while the Common App asks you to rank your top 10 activities in order of importance to you, the Coalition application asks you to provide 8, emphasizing the top two. It also encourages you to supply a minimum of 2 activities, whereas the Common App allows you to skip Activities completely. Finally, Coalition broadly defines activities to include “what you do” with your free time, like helping out at home with siblings. Common App, however, also have “family obligations” now in its drop down categories, though it is not as explicit in its recommendation to include informal activities.

Listing courses:

The Common App sometimes won’t make you list all your academic courses for schools that accept your transcript instead.

Coalition makes you list all your courses out.

Essay length:

Coalition recommends 500-550 (but longer essays will likely fit). Here you have a

Common app caps its main essay length at 650 words (strict).

Load time:

SO SLOW on coalition

Fee Waivers:

Coalition: Unlimited fee waivers, more automatic/easier to access, a few different qualifies

Common App: may require counselor verification on fee waiver status.

# of Schools You Can Apply to:

Common App: 20 school limit

With Coalition: no limit.


with Naviance on Common App, so schools can more easily send transcripts and rec letters.

SAT Score reporting is Integrated into Coalition dashboard

(Though many schools allow self reporting)