Crimson Access Opportunity

CAO provides high-achieving students who need financial support with expert admissions consulting services for FREE! Applications will open on Feb 1st, 2024!

2024 CAO Application Closed

What is CAO

What is CAO?


What do CAO students receive?


Who should apply for CAO?


How and when to apply for CAO?

CAO results

CAO results

What is CAO?

In 2020, Crimson Education, one of the world’s most successful US university admissions support consultancies, created the Crimson Access Opportunity (CAO) program. CAO aims to provide high-achieving students who need financial support with free access to Crimson’s renowned US admissions support.

In a mission to equalize the global college admissions playing field, we provide CAO students with teams of top US university admissions experts who support students in perfecting every element of their US applications. Our aim is to help these students stand out above an increasingly competitive application crowd — making sure they have every chance of achieving the success they deserve.

CAO has seen great success, with students accepted to top universities like Princeton, Stanford, Columbia, Brown, University of Chicago, University of California - Berkeley, Duke, Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory, Northeastern, UNC Chapel Hill, University of Virginia, Franklin & Marshall, DePaul, Loyola Chicago, Sarah Lawrence, Fordham, Marymount Manhattan, UNC-Charlotte, Howard, Elon, Case Western, and more!

The CAO program proudly supports a diverse community of over 250 students from nearly 60 countries. Our track record in prestigious university admissions included 23 Ivy League acceptances in the past two years, with 4 Harvard acceptances in 2022 alone. Additionally, CAO students received significant financial support, totaling nearly $9 million in 2021 and nearly $26 million in 2022. CAO offered expert guidance and a proven path to success at top universities.

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What kind of support do CAO students receive?

CAO students will be offered a spot either in the main program or in the group program. Please read more about the two different programs below:

CAO Main Program:

CAO’s main program will provide a select group of students with 1:1 support from an expert strategist, financial aid mentor, and application mentor. Read more about the included services on the right.

CAO Group Program:

CAO’s group program will provide a group of students with webinars and limited 1:1 support with strategists, financial aid mentors, and application mentors. As a group of ambitious individuals, CAO’s group program students will also have the opportunity to learn from and support each other. Read more about the included services on the left.

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Top 3 Reasons to Apply to CAO

Hear from Crimson CEO & Co-founder, Jamie Beaton, and meet some of our CAO Strategists
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Who should apply for CAO?

We are looking for students who:

  • Demonstrate strong extracurricular involvement, leadership skills, and academic honors
  • Demonstrate financial need — specifically students whose families can contribute less than 30,000 USD towards their education per year
  • Demonstrate strong English proficiency
  • Are ambitious, driven, and enthusiastic about reaching their dreams at a US university

We are looking for high school students who will be in their final year of high school by the fall of 2024 and plan to start university in the fall term of 2025. We also welcome students on a gap year who intend to start university in the fall term of 2025. We do not support transfer students.


We welcome students from all around the world! CAO supports students from every country and nationality. We encourage you to apply no matter where you are located.

Where have CAO students been accepted?

Our CAO students have gained admission to a wide range of colleges including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, UPenn, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, Duke, UChicago, NYU, Northwestern, Carnegie Mellon, Tufts, Bowdoin, UC Berkeley, and many, many more!

CAO students have received over US$35M in financial support

Top Scholarships Received by CAO Students Include: Robertson Scholarship, Duke’s University Scholars, Vanderbilt’s Chancellor’s Scholarship, Vanderbilt’s Cornelius Scholarship, and Richmond Scholars.


Offers to Ivy League universities


Offers to Harvard


Offers to Stanford


Offers to UPenn: Wharton, Huntsman, M&T

Congratulations to the CAO 2023 Cohort

for their excellent early-round achievements, which include 11 Ivy League, 2 Stanford, 1 MIT, 2 UChicago, 2 Tufts, and 8 full-ride scholarships!

Read about previous CAO student journeys

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Learn how these students got into top universities with the help of CAO

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Will this program cover my fees to apply to and attend college?

No, this program will only provide students with Crimson’s admissions support services for free. Applicants are expected to find means to cover their own application fees (including standardized tests). Although the program will be supporting CAO students with applying for financial aid, the CAO scholarship and services included do not imply a guarantee of admission to any colleges or the availability of financial or merit scholarships upon admission. Crimson Education services will only cover college admission support and cannot be held liable for the admission outcomes.

Is the deadline extendable due to extenuating circumstances?

No, the final deadline for submitting the fully completed CAO application was April 1, 2024 and new applications can not be accommodated for this cycle.

What does the application entail?

Our application is like a mini-version of the Common Application. As a part of the application, we will ask about your grades, any standardized test scores, your activities, your financial circumstances, and we will also ask you to submit two essay prompts and a video/audio response. The application is rigorous, but we promise that it'll be worth it! You'll also be able to use lots of your work as a part of your college applications, which will ask you similar questions.

Is there a minimum grade level required to be accepted to the program?

No, there is no minimum grade requirement. However, we look for applicants who have continuously excelled and challenged themselves academically.

How do I know if my extracurricular activities are competitive enough for the program?

We look for students who demonstrate leadership and initiative in their communities, both in and out of school.

What should you focus on in the essay prompts?

The essay prompts are meant to give us a better idea about your interests, personality, motivations, and life experiences. We are looking for independent, original thinkers with the ability to engage critically with the world around them. Your essay does not have to be written at a high level of sophistication or polish; what we are looking for is students who can express their thoughts and experiences honestly and coherently.

When will admissions results for the CAO Program be released?

All results will be released in mid to late May 2024. Applicants do not need to follow up on their application results, they will receive their results over email.

How much time do I get to decide whether to accept or decline my offer?

Students will be notified of their admissions decision in mid to late May 2024. Selected candidates will be required to respond with a confirmation of their acceptance of our offer by a given date, which will be specified in their letter of acceptance. If a selected candidate fails to respond by this stipulated time, their spot will be given to a candidate on the waiting list.

If my application is unsuccessful, will I be provided with reasons or feedback on my application?

Due to the high volume of applications globally, we are unfortunately unable to provide individualized feedback on unsuccessful applications.

When will the program begin?

Students selected for CAO will be formally onboarded through an orientation program, which will take place in June (specific dates to be confirmed soon). During the onboarding process, students will also be introduced to each of the experts helping them in their application process and guided on accessing Crimson’s extensive array of resources and important points of contact for their queries and feedback.

Who will be supporting me through the CAO Program?

Your CAO team will consist of an experienced Strategy Consultant, Application Mentor, and Financial Aid Advisor.

How do I contact Crimson if I have further questions or need to report any problem?

Please email us at with the subject line “CAO Query” and we will respond to your email within 5 working days.

How is the group program different from the main program?

Read more about the services included in each program under the section “What kind of support do CAO students receive?”

Can I choose if I want to participate in the group or the main program?

While applicants can indicate if they are interested in being considered for the group program, accepted students will not be able to choose which program they want to participate in - they will receive an offer to just one of the two programs.

Does CAO support with QuestBridge applications?

Yes, students can get support on their QuestBridge application through CAO.