Frequently Asked Questions

General Overview

What is the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success?

The Coalition represents more than 90 American higher education institutions that share a commitment to providing students with the best possible college experience, beginning with the college application process. Coalition schools provide substantial support to lower-resourced and underrepresented students, offer responsible student financial aid support, and demonstrate a commitment to student graduation. The barriers that have persistently kept low-income and first-generation students from attending and graduating from college will not be eliminated easily. However, the commitment of Coalition members to work together to improve access is a promising step.

Our nation has been in the midst of an important public policy dialogue about whether college is affordable and whether it has value—can students, especially low- and moderate-income students, be successful and graduate without going deeply into debt? This Coalition helps to answer that question with a resounding YES.

What steps is the Coalition taking to address college access concerns?

The Coalition was formed with the goal of improving the college application process for all students. To move toward that goal, the Coalition is developing a set of online tools that will guide and support students throughout the process of finding a college home. Please read the outline of the Coalition’s beliefs and values.

Who is leading the Coalition?

The Coalition is led by an Executive Director, and is governed by a board of directors as well as a set of committees. The board of directors and committees are composed of volunteers from Coalition member institutions.

Why now? What brought the Coalition together?

A growing amount of research has shown that students from disadvantaged backgrounds often do not participate effectively in the college application process, struggle with applying for financial aid, and often are not awarded the financial aid for which they qualify. As a result, even some of the most highly qualified students do not attend college, or do not complete their degrees. The Coalition is developing a platform of tools to help reduce these barriers and create more equitable access to college for students from all backgrounds.

Relevant research includes:

What does it mean when the Coalition says that member institutions are affordable?

“Affordability” is defined differently for public and private universities and colleges within the Coalition. For public universities, it means they have relatively low tuition for students who are admitted from their state, often in combination with need-based financial aid. For private schools, it means they have committed to provide enough financial assistance to meet the full-demonstrated financial need of every domestic (US) student that they admit.

How will this new system help low-income students?

The Coalition platform supported by the collaboration of member institutions provides earlier awareness about college to low-income, underrepresented, and first-generation students. We want to assure students that college is attainable and can be affordable, and that top colleges around the country are invested in their college success.

 

Coalition Tools

What is the Coalition's platform of tools?

The Coalition developed new college planning and application tools to assist students in preparation for, and during the admissions process. They allow students to begin planning for college earlier in their high school years. The platform tools—the Locker, a Collaboration Space, and an Application Portal—seek to recast the process of applying to college as the culmination of students’ development over the course of their high school careers. The Coalition tools have been designed to help students craft their individual narrative incrementally and well in advance of filing an application.

Who can use the Coalition's platform of tools?

The Coalition's tools are free and useful for all students.

What web browsers and mobile devices are supported?

For optimal security and performance reasons, we recommend that you always run the latest version of the browser supported by your operating system. Supported browsers are:

  • Chrome: the most recent two versions
  • Firefox: the most recent two versions
  • Safari: the most recent two versions
  • Internet Explorer: Internet Explorer 11 only. NOTE: The Microsoft Edge browser is not currently supported.

For students and applicants
The student system has been optimized to work on any mobile device running one of the supported browsers.

For Coalition administrators
The entire administrative system is supported on any mobile device running one of the supported browsers. However, form creation and other complex configuration tasks are best done on a larger screen.

Caution: If you are in private browsing or incognito mode, you must disable it before accessing the Coalition platform.

What is the Coalition Locker?

The Locker offers a private space for students to collect and organize materials throughout their high school journey. Whether collecting thoughts on college options or storing classwork or personal writing, students can confidentially save documents that may be useful later in their college search or application. Students can maintain a record of their interests and activities, collect letters of support from instructors, coaches, or supervisors. All of this information will prepare students, particularly those from lower-resourced schools, to complete their college application in their senior year. Access to these resources will be especially important for students at lower-resourced schools, but we expect these tools to help all students who choose to use them. The student controls their Locker, and is the only one with access to the Locker. Students can share documents in the Collaboration Space with their counselors, teachers, and mentors who can provide guidance. Finally, a student may choose to attach materials from the Locker to their Coalition Applications; however, colleges will neither have access to nor be able to review the Locker itself.

What is the Coalition Collaboration Space?

The Collaboration Space is a meeting place where counselors, teachers, and mentors can support the student’s college search and application through feedback and editing.

What is the Coalition Application?

The Coalition Application is a technology platform for applying to schools in the Coalition. The Coalition Application features a modern, intuitive interface that adapts to a student’s life, providing a seamless experience whether engaging through a notebook computer, tablet, or even mobile device. The application is designed to minimize student stress, confusion, and intimidation. It also offers universities the flexibility and autonomy to ask questions that demonstrate their individual institutional priorities.

Important Notice to Students: Coalition schools may have their own unique application requirements, which will include the standard section of Coalition application. Students who will be applying to any Coalition school should check individual application requirements for each institution to which they are applying, as Coalition members have different requirements and have created their supplemental application sections to reflect their unique options. A college or university may require:

  • Information that is auto-filled from your Profile
  • A Coalition essay prompt response
  • Institutional questions specific to an individual college or university
  • An additional expression of your candidacy and interest as conveyed by sharing an item from your Locker (or uploaded from another storage source)

Coalition member institutions will specify their application requirements on their member page of the Platform, as well as on their own websites.

Who created the technology behind the Coalition platform?

The Coalition partnered with CollegeNET to produce their platform of tools.

Is there a cost for participating in the new platform?

The Coalition platform and tools are free for families, students, counselors, and high schools. Colleges and universities who are members provide the resources to support the operation of the Coalition.

 

Our Members

What are the criteria for membership in the Coalition? Will more schools join the Coalition?

Members of the Coalition include a diverse group of public and private universities. Coalition schools provide substantial support to lower–resourced and underrepresented students, offer responsible student financial aid support, and demonstrate a commitment to student graduation. The Coalition has signed up over 90 schools so far, and more partners continue to join.

Who are the schools behind the Coalition?

A current list of Coalition members can be found on the members page.

How will students indicate interest in a particular college or university?

Students may wish to indicate interest in receiving communications from members of the Coalition through the platform or they may choose to reach out to a Coalition member independently. As students build their list of prospective colleges, they will be invited to connect with the college through a link beside the college name. Colleges will not have access to student contact information unless they are invited by the student to communicate.

 

Student Locker

What is the Coalition Locker?

The Locker offers a private space for students to collect and organize materials throughout their high school journey. Whether collecting thoughts on college options or storing classwork or personal writing, students can confidentially save documents that may be useful later in their college search or application. Students can maintain a record of their interests and activities, collect letters of support from instructors, coaches, or supervisors. All of this information will prepare students, particularly those from lower-resourced schools, to complete their college application in their senior year. Access to these resources will be especially important for students at lower-resourced schools, but we expect these tools to help all students who choose to use them. The student controls their Locker, and is the only one with access to the Locker. Students can share documents in the Collaboration Space with their counselors, teachers, and mentors who can provide guidance. Finally, a student may choose to attach materials from the Locker to their Coalition Applications; however, colleges will neither have access to nor be able to review the Locker itself.

Will the Locker be used to evaluate demonstrated interest in an institution?

No. Colleges will not have access to any materials in a student’s Locker. Materials in the Locker must be attached to a student application in order for colleges to use it as part of their admission evaluation. Coalition members will not be able to use the Locker to gauge a student’s interest in their institution.

What are a student’s privacy rights for materials stored in their Coalition locker?

Materials stored in a student Locker belong to the student and are controlled by the student. Individual files in a student Locker are only shared with individual contacts if a student chooses to share that document. No locker materials are accessible to colleges or to groups of individuals; sharing is controlled by the student and is set up so that the student shares a file with one invited advisor at a time in the Collaboration Space. Advisors invited to comment on an item from a student Locker cannot invite other individuals for group collaboration. For additional information, please go to: http://www.coalitionforcollegeaccess.org/privacy.html

Is there a limit to what a student can upload into their Locker? Will there be a maximum file size for a single upload?

Students can upload document files, video files, audio files, image files, spreadsheets, and presentation files to their Locker in their most widely used formats. Documents are limited to 50MB per document, 100MB per image, and 500MB per audio/video file as a starting protocol and the Locker provides generous space for reasonable use.

How long will a student’s Locker and/or Coalition account be active?

A Coalition account will continue to be available after a student’s high school years so that a student can use the platform if they decide to apply to transfer to another institution.

Can a student use the Locker if they do not intend to use the Coalition application?

Yes. The Locker is a private resource to help students prepare for the college application process and it does not require a student to use the Coalition application.

 

The Coalition Application

Do students still have to pay application fees when they apply to Coalition schools?

Students will follow the established admission process of each school, including submitting any required application fee or approved waiver. Coalition member schools will waive the application fee for low income students.

Will transfer students have access to the Coalition platform and application?

Transfer applications will be available on the Coalition platform during its first year. Transfer students will have access to the full Coalition system of tools to prepare their transfer application.

Can a student use the Coalition application if they do not intend to use the Locker?

Completing a Coalition application does not require use of the Locker and/or the collaboration space. Required application materials can be uploaded directly from another storage source.

When will the Coalition Application be released?

Some Coalition schools will accept applications beginning in the summer of 2016, while others will begin accepting applications through the Coalition portal in 2017. The Coalition application will launch by the end of July.

Will the Coalition platform change the way colleges review applications?

The flexibility of the Coalition Application will allow colleges to ask questions that uphold the distinctiveness of their process and of their institutions. Similarly, students will have greater flexibility in submitting unconventional application materials such as videos or artwork to some member schools. Our hope is that students will use the Coalition tools to plan for college and to better understand and express themselves, in particular their unique interests and talents.

Will Coalition member institutions give preference to the Coalition application over other application options? Will there be an “admissions advantage” to using the Coalition Application over the Common Application (for those schools which use both)?

No. Coalition members believe that students should be empowered at every step in the application process—including when they choose which application best suits their needs. Admissions offices at Coalition institutions do not provide preferential treatment to applicants based on which technological platform they decide to use to submit their application.

 

Counselor/Mentor Information

Was the input of counselors used in the development of this new system?

To support the work of the Coalition, we assembled a group of 45 counselors who are distributed among public schools, private schools, and community based organizations. Counselors in the Coalition Counselor Community are invested in the mission and vision of the Coalition to improve student access, affordability and success in the college application process. Counselors support the Coalition in a variety of ways, including providing feedback, advisement, or support to peers.

Why would a college or university use more than one application platform?

For some colleges, offering multiple applications is a decision based on pragmatism and ensuring that a technology failure does not impact their application process. For others, a different application tool provides an opportunity to better differentiate themselves during the admissions process while also expanding openings for students to demonstrate their individuality.

Can a student access confidential counselor/teacher recommendations and/or official transcripts?

No. It is not possible for a student to view any locked document, such as a confidential letter of recommendation or official transcript. In the student Locker, these documents are represented as a visual icon signaling to the student that materials are available for them to submit with their application. When a student elects to send their official transcript and/or recommendation to a college, the system will attach the locked document to the college indicated. Students will not be able to preview/download/view official transcripts and/or confidential letters of recommendation.

How will schools send transcripts and recommendations?

Submitting documents for a student who is applying via the Coalition platform is simple and does not require an outside tool. Uploading a transcript or letter of recommendation is as easy as adding an attachment to an email message. The process is the same whether your counseling office uses GuidedPath, Maia Learning, Naviance, PowerSchool or any other school system. Counselors will only need to upload materials once per student rather than submitting for each and every college to which a student applies. All materials will appear in a student's application portal in electronically sealed envelopes to ensure confidentiality. The student will not be able to view the contents of the envelopes, but will be able to submit these materials, as required, to individually designated colleges.

What resources are available to help counselors and students utilize the Coalition Platform and application?

The Coalition Platform includes an indexed and searchable repository of helpful guidance resources that can be accessed immediately after creating an account using the “Guidance Resources” link on the Coalition Platform. Furthermore, the “Technical Support” link on the Coalition Platform offers more detail on the Platform functions and helps students and counselors with answers to common questions. These resources are continually in development.