On Oct. 8, the nonprofit ACT Inc.–best-known for its college-entrance assessment tests–announced a partnership with CollegeNET to provide a web-based college application service called C3. The College Board, publishers of the Scholastic Assessment Tests (SAT), announced a similar pact with another application service earlier this year.

According to Richard L. Ferguson, president of ACT, the alliance combines ACT’s college outreach and information services with CollegeNET’s technology to create a one-stop shop for high school students and guidance counselors on the internet.

“Improved service to students is our primary goal,” Ferguson said. “Students will be able to retrieve information about any college or university in the nation, estimate their financial need, register for their ACT test, and apply to any participating college or university–and all from the same location on the web.”

The ACT Assessment is taken by more than 1.7 million students each year, according to the nonprofit company. It is used by more than 3,000 colleges and universities to assess students’ abilities. ACT also provides a searchable database containing information on every college in the country as well as grants, loans, and financial aid.

CollegeNET, a Portland, Ore., company launched in 1995, says it is unique among web-based college application services, because it reproduces a participating college’s own application online, just as that application would appear if mailed to the student. The service is free to students, though participating colleges must pay a percentage of their application fee to CollegeNET.

The applications reside on CollegeNET’s server and can be accessed seamlessly from a college’s own site, or from the CollegeNET web site itself. CollegeNET electronically transfers the information in the application fields to the participating college and also securely processes electronic payment of the application fee online.

CollegeNET has contracted with about 200 colleges and universities, including Cornell, Stanford, Virginia Tech, and MIT, to build and service their online applications. Patricia Summers, director of internet marketing for CollegeNET, said the company hopes to expand its service even further via ACT’s presence.

CollegeNET’s web site is:

http://www.collegenet.com