Apply to 8 Idaho colleges for free and in less time than it takes to drink your coffee

Got five minutes?

That’s all it will take for Idaho high school graduates to fill out an application to the state’s eight public higher education institutions this fall. And unlike the old days, those applications won’t cost you a dime.

It’s part of a plan by the Idaho State Board of Education to make enrolling in state colleges as simple and streamlined as possible to boost the state’s dismal rate of high school graduates who go on to college. Fewer than half of Idaho’s high school seniors go immediately to college after graduation.

How will the application process work? In September, Idaho high school seniors will get automatic acceptance letters from up to eight of the state’s colleges and universities. Those are Boise State University, Idaho State University, University of Idaho, Lewis-Clark State College, North Idaho College, College of Southern Idaho, College of Western Idaho and College of Eastern Idaho.

Once students receive the letter, they can go to the board’s “Next Steps” webpage and complete a short — very short — application and send it to as many of those schools as they want.

Students can even have their transcripts sent to the schools electronically. Note: The system isn’t yet designed to pick up the last few months of high school grades, so students will have to arrange to send those to the Idaho colleges on their lists.

How easy is this? The state board took the application process to students at Capital High School in Boise and Kuna High School for a test run. Students completed the forms in 3.5 to five minutes.

About the fees: Idaho colleges charge up to $50 to complete a college application. None of those fees apply if students use the online form from the State Board of Education.