Dec 29, 2012

The Common Application Warns Last Minute Applicants

College of William and Mary

In recent posts on Facebook, officials from the Common Application organization warn college-bound seniors to submit materials well in advance of posted deadlines and to pay particular attention to the order in which they send required elements of individual applications.

“If you are applying to a college that requires a payment before you can submit your application, do not wait until the deadline to pay,” according to the Common Application. “Processing of credit card and eCheck payments can take up to 48 hours, and you will not be able to submit your application until the payment has gone through.”

Approximately one-third of the Common App’s member colleges and universities require that students submit a payment or supplement—or both—before submitting the application. In these cases, the requirements are clearly displayed in the Application section of a student’s My Colleges page.
Unfortunately, some online credit card payments can take up to two days to go through the system. Because a record of payment will not appear in a student’s account until the fee has been processed, students who wait until the last minute may find they are unable to submit an application because of delays in updating their account.  And on occasion, a credit card may be declined causing additional delays while you scramble to find an alternate form of payment.

This is a problem because once a deadline has passed for a particular college, the Common Application may no longer permit applications to be submitted to that college.  It’s up to the college and some are very strict about their deadlines.

Locally, Christopher Newport, the College of William & Mary, Towson University, UVa, Saint Mary’s College of Maryland, and the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) require both payment and the required supplement before the application may be submitted. 

Other area schools including American University, George Washington, the University of Mary Washington, the University of Richmond, and Johns Hopkins want their applications first and payments second. In other words, there’s no predicting who wants what when. You just have to pay attention to the instructions!

In addition to potential submission snafus related to forms sequencing, students should also be aware that technical support is not an instantaneous operation. The Common Application annually reminds students that waiting until the “11th,” may not leave enough time for staff to respond to questions submitted electronically “before the clock strikes midnight.”

For those keeping track, the Common App reports that individual applicants registering with the system now number over 405,698—nine percent more than the same time last year. And as of December 1st, 1,248,267 applications had already been submitted to Common App member colleges. This represents a nine percent increase  in application submissions.

For more information or further clarification of rules relating to the timely submission of applications, visit the Common Application website.

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