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American College Application Campaign

December 30, 1899


​Why College Matters

Higher education will determine the future of our nation. Often, income inequalities are driven by a lack of access to college. Not only are college graduates half as likely to be unemployed as those with only a high school degree, they are also more likely to vote and be leaders in their communities. The economic health and social viability of a democratic society is determined by the education of its citizens. We must remove the barriers to postsecondary education access.



What Is The American College Application Campaign?

The American College Application Campaign (ACAC) is a national effort to increase the number of first-generation students and students from low-income families pursuing a college degree or other higher education credential. The primary purpose of this effort is to help high school seniors navigate the complex college admissions process and ensure they apply to at least one postsecondary institution. The effort occurs during the school day, with a focus on students who might not otherwise apply to college.

ACAC State Map Washington StateOregonMontanaMinnesotaWisconsinMichiganMassachusettsRhode IslandDelawareOhioWest VirginiaVirginiaDistrict of ColumbiaKentuckyIowaIllinoisTennesseeNorth CarolinaSouth CarolinaGeorgiaFloridaArizonaColoradoOklahomaHawaiiCaliforniaNevadaIdahoUtahLouisianaMississippiAlabamaMaineNew YorkMarylandAlaskaMissouriIndianaNew MexicoTexasPennsylvaniaArkansasKansasSouth DakotaNew HampshireNorth DakotaWyomingNebraskaVermontNew JerseyConnecticut

In 2014, ACAC programs took place in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Campaign expands each year to include more high schools and students. Click on a state to learn more about their Campaign program or see a list of all 2014 participating states.


ACAC also:

  • Educates policy and decision makers in every state and territory about the importance and value of higher education
  • Works to increase the number of citizens who pursue educational opportunities beyond high school
  • Supports the creation of a better-prepared workforce

ACAC provides the following services at no cost to states and territories implementing an ACAC college application effort:

  • Technical assistance
  • Specialized training, webinars, and consultation
  • Access to proven practices and resources
  • Support with evaluation

To ensure success, states and territories are encouraged to:

  • Organize a broad-based statewide steering committee with K–12 and higher education representatives and college access leaders
  • Identify a primary contact person for their state
  • Establish a timeframe for implementation
  • Conduct a pilot project with 1-20 high schools in the first year
  • Identify a period of time in October or November of each year to sponsor the ACAC event at a schools during the school day
  • Report results
  • Participate in an annual meeting to exchange proven practices


Evidence of its Impact

States that have put into place multiple educational access strategies, including ACAC events, have seen increases in low-income students' college participation rates.

"I think having the opportunity to apply in school lessened the stress that
I had about when I was going to find the time to apply."
- Georgia high school senior


"Ninety-one out of 153 students applied to college before Thanksgiving.
Our kids were so excited! May be my best day ever as a principal."
- Minnesota high school principal


Since piloting what was then College Application Week and other strategies
in 2008, Tennessee increased its higher education participation rate
among low-income students from 23.1% to 32.5%.


North Carolina began College Application Week in 2005 with one high
school. By November 2011, the event was sponsored in 488 high schools,
representing every district in the state, with 25,243 North Carolina students
submitting 61,854 applications.



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 Getting Started


A face-to-face meeting with an empowered statewide steering committee is essential. A member of the ACAC team can facilitate this gathering. Members of such a committee might include:

  • K–12 representatives
  • Governor’s education advisor
  • Public and private four-year colleges
  • Public and private two-year colleges
  • College access professionals such as Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), TRIO, or College Advising Corps
  • College admissions and financial aid officers
  • State guarantor representatives
  • Statewide, web-based portal representatives
  • Legislative education liaisons

bullet Contact us to Get Started!


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