What is the Common Black College Application?

Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the US amount to more than 100.

Apply to a handful of them, fortunately, need not be done separately. That’s because there’s the Common Black College Application (CBCA).

You can apply to various HBCUs simultaneously using the CBCA, which is an online college application just like the Common App or Coalition App. Completing it only takes around 10 minutes and the cost is a one-time application fee of $20. However, more than 60 HBCUs accept the CBCA.

It was in 1990 when the Common Black College Application was created by Robert Mason.

Mason graduated from Virginia State University, a public historically black land-grant institution in Ettrick, Virginia, in 1984.

While working in the admissions offices of Virginia State University and Clark Atlanta University, he had a light-bulb moment. He looked for a way to simplify the process of applying to HBCUs.

He also wanted to provide students of color, particularly those who think of themselves as not being smart enough to go to college, an idea of what they could accomplish — Mason graduated high school with a 1.9 GPA.

Before the Common Black College Application came into being, many students applying to historically black colleges used the Common App or Coalition App.

Shaw University - HBCU

But since Robert Mason sprang into action and came up with the CBCA, students planning to attend HBCUs now have another platform that they can count on.

What’s so nice about the CBCA is that not only does it simplify applying to HBCUs but also makes it easier on the pocket.

That’s because the amount of money you will have to shell out is only $20 and nothing else!

The following are the different HBCUs (and their locations) that accept the Common Black College Application:

Alabama A&M UniversityHuntsville, AlabamaPublic
Alabama State UniversityMontgomery, AlabamaPublic
Albany State UniversityAlbany, GeorgiaPublic
Alcorn State UniversityLorman, MississippiPublic
Allen UniversityColumbia, South CarolinaPrivate
Arkansas Baptist CollegeLittle Rock, ArkansasPrivate
Benedict CollegeColumbia, South CarolinaPrivate
Bennett CollegeGreensboro, North CarolinaPrivate
Bethune-Cookman UniversityDaytona Beach, FloridaPrivate
Bluefield State CollegeBluefield, West VirginiaPublic
Central State UniversityWilberforce, OhioPublic
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine & ScienceWillowbrook, CaliforniaPrivate
Claflin UniversityOrangeburg, South CarolinaPrivate
Clark Atlanta UniversityAtlanta, GeorgiaPrivate
Clinton CollegeRock Hill, South CarolinaPrivate
Coppin State UniversityBaltimore, MarylandPublic
Dillard UniversityNew Orleans, LouisianaPrivate
Edward Waters CollegeJacksonville, FloridaPrivate
Elizabeth City State UniversityElizabeth City, North CarolinaPublic
Florida Memorial UniversityMiami Gardens, FloridaPrivate
Fort Valley State UniversityFort Valley, GeorgiaPublic
Grambling State UniversityGrambling, LouisianaPublic
Harris-Stowe State UniversitySt. Louis, MissouriPublic
Huston-Tillotson UniversityAustin, TexasPrivate
Jackson State UniversityJackson, MississippiPublic
Jarvis Christian CollegeWood County, TexasPrivate
Johnson C. Smith UniversityCharlotte, North CarolinaPrivate
Kentucky State UniversityFrankfort, KentuckyPublic
Lane CollegeJackson, TennesseePrivate
Lincoln UniversityJefferson City, MissouriPublic
Lincoln UniversityOxford, PennsylvaniaPublic
Livingstone CollegeSalisbury, North CarolinaPrivate
LeMoyne-Owen CollegeMemphis, TennesseePrivate
Mississippi Valley State UniversityItta Bena, MississippiPublic
Miles CollegeFairfield, AlabamaPrivate
Morris CollegeSumter, South CarolinaPrivate
Morgan State UniversityBaltimore, MarylandPublic
Norfolk State UniversityNorfolk, VirginiaPublic
Paine CollegeAugusta, GeorgiaPrivate
Paul Quinn CollegeDallas, TexasPrivate
Philander Smith CollegeLittle Rock, ArkansasPrivate
Rust CollegeHolly Springs, MississippiPrivate
Saint Augustine’s UniversityRaleigh, North CarolinaPrivate
Shaw UniversityRaleigh, North CarolinaPrivate
South Carolina State UniversityOrangeburg, South CarolinaPublic
Southern University and A&M CollegeBaton Rouge, LouisianaPublic
Southern UniversityBaton Rouge, LouisianaPublic
Stillman CollegeTuscaloosa, AlabamaPrivate
Talladega CollegeTalladega, AlabamaPrivate
Tennessee State UniversityNashville, TennesseePublic
Texas CollegeTyler, TexasPrivate
Tougaloo CollegeJackson, MississippiPrivate
Tuskegee UniversityTuskegee, AlabamaPrivate
University of Arkansas Pine BluffPine Bluff, ArkansasPublic
University of Maryland Eastern ShorePrincess Anne, MarylandPublic
University of the Virgin IslandsSt. Thomas, Virgin IslandsPublic
Virginia State UniversityEttrick, VirginiaPublic
Virginia Union UniversityRichmond, VirginiaPrivate
Voorhees CollegeDenmark, South CarolinaPrivate
West Virginia State UniversityInstitute, West VirginiaPublic
Wilberforce UniversityWilberforce, OhioPrivate
Wiley CollegeMarshall, TexasPrivate
Common Black College Application List

The Common Black College Application: Pros and Cons

When applying to HBCUs, you can either send your application and supporting documents straight to the schools or use the Common Black Application if the historically black colleges on your list are members.

African American students

Before choosing to apply through the CBCA rather than via the traditional approach, consider getting to know the advantages and the disadvantages of using the app.

After weighing them, you will have a much better idea of whether the app can make the college application process easier or more complicated.


Easy on the pocket

Going to college doesn’t come cheap. Similarly, applying to colleges and universities costs a lot.

The Common App and Coalition App may be free platforms alright. However, applying to member schools doesn’t come free of charge.

Every college or university you apply to via any of these applications will cost you anywhere from $30 to $75 — more for applicants residing outside the US.

On the other hand, the Common Black College Application isn’t free — registering costs $20.

However, you will no longer have to shell out any money when applying to member schools.

So, in other words, there are no individual application fees to take care of after creating an account with the CBCA.

Apply to more than 50% of HBCUs

More than 900 colleges and universities use the Common App. Approximately 150 institutions use the Coalition App.

On the other hand, 66 out of the 101 historically black colleges use the Common Black College Application.

This means that you can apply to more than half of the nation’s HBCUs via the CBCA.

Dillard University

Some of high-ranking HBCUs that use the app include:

  • Bennett College
  • Claflin University
  • Dillard University
  • Fisk University
  • Norfolk State University
  • Tuskegee University
  • Voorhees College

If the historically black college of your choice doesn’t use the Common Black College Application, then you will have to apply to it via the Common App or Coalition App, whichever of the two the school uses.

Trouble-free to use

Not too long ago, the Common App had all sorts of technical issues. This forced many US colleges and universities to extend their early decision (ED) and early action (EA) deadlines.

Even before the app became flooded with glitches, many students had trouble using it.

Trouble logging in, formatting issues, preview generation dilemmas, buggy green check function — these are some of the most common problems college-bound kids encounter when using the Common App.

On the other hand, the Common Black College Application is so much easier to use. As a matter of fact, you can complete it in less than 10 minutes.

Higher chances of getting accepted

When applying to colleges and universities, most students check out acceptance rates. This allows them to know from which institutions they are likely to get acceptance letters.

By using the Common Black College Application, you can increase your chances of gaining admission into the HBCU of your choice.

That’s because the app has a 97% success rate.

This means that up to 97% of all students who use the CBCA get accepted to at least one historically black school — some are accepted at two or more!


Limited supporting documents

Both the Common App and Coalition App allow students to upload all sorts of supporting documents. Recommendation letters, essays and transcripts are common examples.

Because there is no need to submit various admission requirements through other means, such as by emailing or faxing them, applying to colleges and universities is simplified.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Common Black College Application.

The only supporting documents that can be submitted through it are your official transcript and test score.

What’s more, your high school counselor is the only one who can do so — when creating a CBCA account, you will have to provide his or her email.

The rest of the supporting documents will have to be emailed or faxed to the HBCUs you are applying to.

Top HBCUs aren’t members

Prestigious and highly selective colleges and universities in the nation, such as Harvard University and Cornell College, accept the Common App and Coalition App.

On the other hand, not all high-ranking historically black colleges accept the Common Black College Application.

For instance, Spelman College, which is the number one HBCU, says US News, accepts admission applications exclusively via the Common App.

Spelman College
Broadmoor, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Other high-ranking HBCUs that aren’t members of the CBCA include:

Not technologically advanced

Many students who have already tried using both the Common App and Coalition App say that the Common Black College Application is not as innovative as the two college admission applications.

This is the reason why the CBCU is so much easier to use and, at the same time, has very limited functions.

Not being as technologically advanced as the Common App and Coalition App is a disadvantage alright. However, in some instances, it can be an advantage, too.

Are you not a tech-savvy individual?

Then using the Common Black College Application may keep you from ending up with a splitting headache and missed opportunities.

Using the CBCU: A Step-by-Step Guide

No matter if you are a fresh high school graduate, from another college or an international student, the steps to creating an account with the Common Black College Application are the same.

However, the pieces of information you will have to provide vary.

Still, you can apply to 66 historically black schools and pay $20 only — no application fees needed.

The good news is that creating a CBCU account is trouble-free. As a matter of fact, many students who have already created their accounts say that it took them no more than 10 minutes from start to finish.

Fret not if you consider yourself as a technically challenged individual and you wish to use the CBCU when applying to the historically black colleges on your list.

Below, you will come across a quick step-by-step guide on coming up with an account with the Common Black College Application.

Without further ado, here are the simple steps to take:

Click on the Apply Now button

On the Common Black College Application’s website, there’s an Apply Now button.

All you have to do is click on it to get started. Provide your first name, last name and email address.

Don’t forget to come up with a password consisting of at least eight characters that you can easily remember.

You will be asked to confirm the password you just provided — make sure that they are a perfect match!

Click on the Create New Account button once you are through.

Pay the $20 fee

The Common App and Coalition App may be cost-free to use alright.

However, each time you use any of these platforms to apply to your desired school, you will have to pay $30 to $70.

So, if you plan to apply to five colleges and universities via the Common App or Coalition App, you will have to spend anywhere from $150 to $350!

On the other hand, there is no such thing as an application fee with the Common Black College Application.

However, creating an account with it costs $20, which is the only amount of cash that you will have to shell out. You can pay the said registration fee via PayPal or by using a credit card or a debit card.

Provide the school counselor’s email

Before creating an account with the Common Black College Application, make sure that you get your hands on the email of your high school counselor.

That’s because the CBCA will ask you to provide it in order to allow your school counselor to upload your official transcript or SAT or ACT score if required by the HBCU you are applying to.

When you provide your school counselor’s email, the app will notify him or her to create an account, too.

After successfully creating an account with the Common Black College Application, your school counselor will be able to upload the supporting documents necessary for you to be able to start applying to historically black colleges.

Select the HBCUs of your liking

As mentioned a handful of times already, the Common Black College Application allows you to apply to 66 HBCUs. However, you are limited to sending an application to only four of them.

Under the Application Detail tab, there is a section entitled My Institutions.

This section allows you to check out the different historically black colleges in the country that accept the CBCA.

By clicking on their logos, you can read some important pieces of information about them. And if you like what you see, you can bookmark or select the institution.

You may also exchange messages with a school via the My Institutions section.

However, it’s a much better idea to get in touch with the HBCU using your personal email. This is especially true if you want to send supplementary materials.

Regularly check your dashboard

Your dashboard will notify you if the historically black colleges you applied to via the Common Black College Application have checked out your application or downloaded the attached supporting documents.

It’s a good idea to visit your dashboard on a regular basis to keep track of your application.

Fret not if it seems like your application isn’t progressing. That’s because you may send an email to the admissions office of the HBCU you applied to, stating that you submitted an application using the CBCA.

Besides your Common Black College Application dashboard, you should also regularly keep an eye on your email inbox. The historically black colleges you applied to will get in touch with you through the email linked to your CBCA account.

Don’t forget to check your spam folder — it’s possible for acceptance/rejection letters to end up in it!

Is the Common Black College App Legit

The Common Black College Application is just like the Common App or Coalition App. However, it’s exclusive for students applying to historically black colleges.

There are thousands of colleges and universities in the US.

However, not all of them accept the Common App or Coalition App.

The same is true with the CBCA — not all HBCUs in the country accept it. To date, the Common Black College Application has a total of 66 member schools.

Above, we talked about the pros and cons of using the CBCA.

The platform has some advantages over the Common App and Coalition App, and leading the list is that it makes applying to historically black colleges cheaper.

However, it also comes with a few disadvantages that can cause you to resort to other means of applying.

Read Also: Best HBCU Colleges By Major, Program, Campus, Teachers, etc.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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