2022–2023 changes

Our research on hurdles within the application process includes student interviews, support ticket analysis, submission data analysis, member and counselor surveys, interviews and focus groups, and input from college access policy experts. Based on our research and valuable feedback from member colleges, we will make changes to sex and gender and the Common App fee waiver request process.

Sex and gender

For the 2022–2023 application season, Common App will add “Mx.” and “other” options for counselor, parent, recommender, teacher, and advisor prefix options, as well as add “legal” to the first/given name question label. Beginning in the 2023–2024 application season, Common App will add "X or another legal sex" as an option in addition to "female" and "male," similar to the addition of "X" as a legal sex indicator on U.S. passports.

This change follows last year’s addition of a question to provide applicants with the option to share their preferred first name and an option for students to add their pronoun set, among other changes. In addition, 24 states already allow for a third option for legal sex markers on official government documents.

Changes to sex and gender questions for 2022–2023:

  • Add “Mx.” and “other” options for all prefix options, including recommender invitations and Family fields. Selection of “other” triggers short answer question
  • Move gender and pronouns question to demographics. New order will be gender, legal sex, and then pronouns
  • Add “legal” to first/given name question label
  • Reorder questions in the “name” question set
  • Add “Mx.” and “other” to recommender prefix. Selection of “other”  triggers short answer question
  • Replace “his or her” with the gender-neutral “their” when applicable

Legal sex in 2023–2024

Our work on sex and gender will continue in 2023–2024 with the addition of “X or another legal sex” as a legal sex option

Why are you waiting to add “X” as a legal sex option to the application?

As an equity-focused organization, we don’t just want to remove barriers within our application, but also use our resources and data to advocate for change at a systemic level. Over the coming year, Common App will support members with data and resources as they prepare for these changes and will engage with regulatory and reporting entities to encourage a more lasting evolutionary shift.

Common App fee waiver

Common App and its members want to make sure that application fees do not pose a barrier for any student. However, our research has shown that the Common App fee waiver may confuse students with the greatest need for a fee waiver; that is, our current fee waiver request process may miss eligible students. 

We also found that many school counselors may lack the resources to verify specific details about a student’s low-income status. Nearly a quarter of applicants who indicated they were eligible for a Common App fee waiver were not able to obtain confirmation from their counselor.  It is clear that the current counselor fee waiver verification process can provide unreliable data to our members. 

Changes to fee waiver request questions for 2022–2023:

  • Expand the Common App fee waiver question label to include the list of eligibility criteria
  • Remove the dynamic criteria multiple select question to simplify the process for students

Counselor affirmation form in first-year recommender system:

  • Remove the eligibility reasons; replace with a yes/no question 
  • Add an optional short answer for counselors to provide more context

Fee waiver request questions in transfer application:

  • Expand the Common App fee waiver question label to include the list of eligibility criteria 
  • Remove the dynamic criteria multiple select question to simplify the process for students
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Looking ahead

For the 2022–2023 cycle, we also considered changes to Family, Activities, and future plans. Based on our research and valuable feedback from member colleges, we decided not to make changes to these sections at this time. We may continue our research into these areas in a future cycle.