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About ACAC

December 30, 1899



The American College Application Campaign® (ACAC), an effort of the American Council on Education, is a national initiative designed to increase the number of first-generation and low-income students who pursue a postsecondary education. The purpose is to assist high school seniors as they navigate the college admissions process and ensure each participating student submits at least one admissions application.

The Campaign is conducted state by state and is typically held for one week in early November. However, there may be variations to the scheduled week in order to accommodate the individual needs of a state. After submitting the admissions application, students register for their FSA ID and are provided with the date of their state’s FAFSA Day or College Goal event to ensure they complete the admissions process and apply for financial aid.


The first College Application Day was held at a GEAR UP North Carolina high school in Siler City, NC in November 2005.  The next year it expanded to 15 high schools, then to 109 high schools in 2007. By 2010, at least 470 NC high schools participated in the state’s College Application Week program annually. Additionally, by the same year, the program had spread to five southern states and Colorado. A planning grant was provided by Lumina Foundation in 2011 along with a programmatic expansion grant by the Kresge Foundation. In November 2011, 3 new states piloted the effort. Since then, the program has grown annually to include more states, more high schools, and more students nationally. The program has now expanded to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Based on data reported by states to date, during the fall 2016 campaign, more than 5,700 high schools hosted college application events nationally which resulted in around 440,000 seniors submitting over 740,000 college applications. As of now, this represents approximately an 18 percent increase in the number of participating high schools from 2015. ACAC has established the goal of reaching 7,000 high schools nationally during the 2017 campaign.

2016 data charts.JPG

Steering Committee

In October 2010, a group of interested individuals began discussions of how the program might be broadened to include other states. The Campaign Steering Committee included the following individuals who, at the time, represented the following organizations:

James Applegate Illinois Board of Higher Education
Molly Corbett Broad American Council on Education
Greg Darnieder United States Department of Education
Kati Haycock The Education Trust
Bobby Kanoy American Council on Education
Martha Kanter New York University
Richard Laine National Governors Association
Chris Minnich Council of Chief State School Officers
George Pernsteiner        State Higher Education Executive Officers
Sheri Ranis Lumina Foundation for Education
Roberto Rodriguez White House Domestic Policy Council
Advisory Council

The American College Application Campaign is extremely grateful for the guidance, support, and insight provided by its Advisory Council. The Council met on a quarterly basis to guide the implementation of Campaign programs nationally. The Advisory Council included the following individuals who, at the time, represented the following organizations:

Marie Groark Get Schooled Foundation
Erin Hill Delaware State University
Nicole Hurd College Advising Corps
Lisa Sommer King Michigan College Access Network
Caroline Altman Smith The Kresge Foundation
Eric Sparks American School Counselor Association
Randy Swing Association for Institutional Research
Wendy Blackmore Tennessee College Access & Success Network
Sarah Wenham Georgia Board of Regents
American College Application Campaign Staff

For questions about the American College Application Campaign, please reach out to one of our team members directly. Or, you may contact the team through the​ email address.

Melissa Caperton 919-602-3635
Joni Petschauer 252-241-5593
Lisa King ​  989-274-1872

Partners and Sponsors

Through the generous funding provided by the following foundations and organizations, the ACAC team is able to provide free technical assistance and training to states implementing a Campaign program:

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