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ARLINGTON, Va. -- Military veterans who apply to college through the nonprofit Common App will no longer have to answer a question about the nature of their military discharge. The change, announced today, is part of an ongoing initiative spearheaded by Common App to create a more equitable admissions process across its more than 900 member colleges and universities around the country.

"This is about rethinking, with fresh eyes, legacy systems that too often lock out promising students from attending college -- or even applying at all," said Jenny Rickard, president and chief executive officer of Common App. "This change reflects the Common App's continued effort to rethink those systems. It's about enabling more servicemembers to complete their application by removing an obstacle that too often stands in the way of veterans' college-going aspirations."

"This change reflects the Common App's continued effort to rethink those systems. It's about enabling more servicemembers to complete their application by removing an obstacle that too often stands in the way of veterans' college-going aspirations."

Jenny Rickard, President & CEO, Common App

Although servicemembers with no disciplinary record leave the military for a wide range of medical or general discharge reasons, many believe that the absence of an Honorable Discharge will undermine their college chances. The decision to eliminate the discharge question stems from the findings of extensive research which found that veterans who create Common App accounts fail to submit college applications at nearly twice the rate of civilian applicants. This change follows Common App's recent decision to remove the question on its application about school discipline, based on internal data finding both persistent racial disparities in disciplinary reporting, and evidence that students who disclose disciplinary records are less likely to submit their applications to any college.

"For returning veterans, higher education can be a powerful pathway to a stable career and a fulfilling return to civilian life," said Clark Brigger, Executive Director of Admissions at University of Colorado, Boulder and a U.S. Navy veteran. "Sadly, far too many are deterred by the perception that a general discharge will count as a strike against them in the application process. As institutions of higher education, our missions demand that we identify and break-down barriers to access -- and opportunity -- for service members."

During the 2019-2020 school year, more than 1.1 million prospective students used the Common App to submit over 5.5 million college applications. Since 2019, the Common App has also partnered with Reach Higher, a college access initiative started by former First Lady Michelle Obama, to fuel equity and access within and beyond the college admissions process.