Parents in our Paying for College 101 FB Group recently had a discussion about historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and the benefits of using the Common Black College Application (CBCA) to apply. Their insights were spot on. We collected some highlights and included them in this community-inspired story.
Applying to colleges can be a stressful experience for parents and students. In addition to the time spent researching schools and filling out all the forms, there’s the matter of paying for each and every application.
If you’re a student interested in applying to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), the Common Black College Application (CBCA) can make the process both easy and affordable — and the timing couldn’t be better. Applications to HBCUs have seen a dramatic increase in recent years, with some schools reporting as much as a 60 percent surge in applications.
Given that the average cost of a college application hovers at around $45, applying to multiple colleges can quickly become a costly endeavor. According to the College Board, the process takes time, too — about an hour per school, on average.
What is the Common Black College Application?
Exclusive to HBCUs, the mobile-friendly Common Black College Application (also called the HBCU Common App or the Black Common App) allows a student of any race, creed, and color who is interested in an HBCU to easily apply to 65 plus schools at one time. All a student must do is create an account, fill in basic demographic information, upload a high school transcript, list their extracurricular activities, and answer a few questions about college preferences.
Like the Common App, which allows students to apply to multiple schools using one form, the Common Black College App allows students to instead apply to many HBCUs, and slims down the process in various ways, saving them time and money.
“Some of the colleges may ask for additional information, and that might include essays,” said Donna Stefanik, a member of our Paying for College 101 (PFC101)Facebook community whose daughter attends an HBCU. “But all are able to see the initial application, transcripts, and scores sent.”
Uploading SAT or ACT test scores is optional, though all students must answer questions about their disciplinary and criminal history. Once they’ve completed the Common Black College Application and pay the $20 one-time fee for as many schools as desired.
“It’s one button, but you may have to create a portal account for each school so they can communicate with you outside the app,” said PFC101 member Detoya Neal-Richburg. “The student may have to provide additional information, too.”
Like the Common App, this may be in the form of supplemental essays or something else, depending on the school.
Benefits of the Common Black College Application
One of the biggest perks of the CBCA is that it requires only one $20 application fee for up to 67 colleges and counting. Instead of paying fees to every school a student applies to, the one-time fee covers them all.
When compared to the Common App, the slimmed-down process also reduces the time it takes to apply to each school — in most cases, to just 10 minutes.
Allowing students to apply efficiently to more schools also puts them in the running for several scholarships at once, simply based on their applications. Instead of researching and applying for each piece of merit individually, the CBCA exposes them to opportunities they may not even know existed and consideration is automatic.
“It was a godsend for my daughter,” said parent Felicia Deloatch. “She was accepted to 26 schools from that app, and non African-American students are considered for minority scholarships.”
While the CBCA doesn’t include all HBCUs, the list of schools continues to grow, providing a great opportunity for students interested in those colleges, and, as in Johnson’s case, introducing them to schools they may not have considered.
“HBCUs often struggle to find marketing dollars and students, and this is a way to fill seats with students who might otherwise not even know about some of the colleges,” said Donna Stefanik, a community member whose daughter attends an HBCU.
It’s also an excellent way for students to be considered for scholarships they may not have otherwise known about. “My daughter [used the Common Black College Application] and got into some quality institutions AND got a lot of scholarship money,” said Michelle Richard, another parent in the group.
Given that cost and discrimination are the primary reasons that many black students cite as obstacles to pursuing higher education, it’s easy to see why over a quarter million students and their families have used the Common Black College Application since it first launched 20 years ago.
“This is AMAZING,” said member Wendy Kirkeide. “I actually have a friend with triplets who used this resource last year and it was a lifesaver.”
Is the Common Black College Application Right for Your Student?
Not all HBCUs are included in this streamlined tool, but the sheer number of schools a student can access with this one low-cost app make it an appealing option. Those focused on attending an HBCU may find this simplified, accessible tool a great way to do more while spending less.
Use College Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.
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