2025 CAO Application: How to Apply

by Staff Reporter

The 2025 CAO (Central Applications Office) applications are officially open. This means if you want to go to college or university next year, it’s time to get started on your application.

You might wonder why students use CAO instead of applying directly to tertiary institutions. Well, let us explain!

The CAO is a non-profit organisation, mainly used in KwaZulu-Natal, that handles applications for colleges and universities all in one place.

The whole point of the CAO is to make applying to college or university much easier. It’s super simple—you can apply to up to six places with just one application form and fee.

Now, you may be wondering, how does it work? Well, students are required to navigate to the CAO website and fill out all their necessary details there. Once that’s done, they can then start the application process with tertiary institution they’ve chosen.

Now that you know what CAO is all about, let’s see how you can start your CAO application for 2025.

Table of Contents


2025 CAO Application Dates

Opening date for 2025 applications: 1 March 2024

If you’re a student getting ready to fill out a CAO application for next year, you’ve still got time to gather all your documents before the next closing date!

It’s important to remember that if you want to start studying in 2025, you should check the closing dates of the tertiary institution you’re interested in before sending your application to the CAO.

The CAO application deadlines depend on institution closing dates, so be sure to find out when your college or university is closing before you apply.

For example, if you’re planning to study teaching at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, you’ll need to send your application to the CAO before 30 September 2025.

Be sure to stay up to date on the latest college and university application dates by checking our Study Advice page!

Supporting Documents Needed for Your 2025 CAO Application

Before you send in your CAO application, you’ll need to upload some important documents first. Don’t worry though, we’ll guide you through it! Here are the supporting documents you need for your 2025 CAO application:

  1. A copy of your ID.
  2. If you’re in Grade 12, include your final Grade 11 academic report. Or, if you’ve finished your highest qualification, provide a copy of that.
  3. Non-South African applicants should include a copy of their study/residence permit.

In some cases, you might need to upload additional supporting documents:

  • If you’re in Grade 12, send your June Grade 12 report as soon as you get it.
  • When you receive your September/Trials Grade 12 report, upload it right away.
  • You might also have to give any other documents the institution asks for, such as your academic record.
student sending 2025 cao application

Once you have all your supporting documents ready, it’s time to upload them. Here’s a simple guide to uploading your supporting documents on the CAO website:

  1. Go to www.cao.ac.za.
  2. On the Home Page, look for the ‘Upload My Documents’ icon and click on it.
  3. Read the instructions carefully to understand what you’ll need to log in and upload your documents.
  4. After logging in, follow the steps provided to upload your documents. If needed, insert your examination results as well.
  5. Before you submit, make sure to review and check that you’ve uploaded the correct documents and entered accurate results.
  6. When you’re confident everything is correct, click on the ‘Submit My Documents’ icon.

Remember: Be careful to select the correct document category when uploading your files. Uploading documents under the wrong category might cause the CAO’s system to mark them as ‘not received/outstanding,’ which could lead to your application being rejected.

Always double-check your application to ensure everything is correct before hitting the submit button.

student uploading supporting documents for cao application

2025 CAO Application: How to Apply

When it comes to submitting your 2025 CAO application, there are a couple of ways to do it. You can fill out a paper application form, but that’s not the most efficient choice. The easiest way to apply is to visit the CAO website and apply online.

Here’s how to send your CAO application for 2025:

  1. Go to www.cao.ac.za and click on the ‘Apply’ button.
  2. Read the info provided and click on ‘Continue with Application’.
  3. Enter your South African ID number and click ‘Submit’.
  4. Fill in all the required details. Once you’re done, click ‘Next’.
  5. Click on ‘Continue with Online Application’.
  6. A window will pop up showing your CAO number, password, and EasyPay number. Make sure to read the instructions carefully. This info will also be emailed to you.
  7. Click ‘Continue with Online Application’.
  8. Follow the instructions and fill in all the necessary information.
  9. Click ‘Next’ as you move through the application pages.
  10. When you’re done, review your application summary on the screen.
  11. Finally, click ‘Process My Application’.

After you’ve clicked the button, you’ll see a message confirming your submission. Now, you can pay online or upload any supporting documents you still need to add.

Applying online is convenient and ensures your CAO application gets processed quickly. However, now comes the waiting part.

If you’re eagerly waiting to check the status of your application, you can do so online. Let’s explore how to check the status of your 2025 CAO application:

CAO Status Check: How to Check Your CAO Application

Once you’ve sent in your application, it’s natural to be eager to know if you’ve been accepted. Luckily, there are a couple of ways to check how your CAO application is going.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to www.cao.ac.za.
  2. Click on ‘Check My Application’.

Alternatively, you can use the CAO self-help service by calling 031 268 4444 or 0860 860 226.


What Does Your CAO Application Status Mean?

If you’re looking at your CAO application status online and you’re not sure what it means, don’t worry. The CAO has defined all its application statuses in its 2025 handbook, which you can view below:



Waiting for a Decision

The tertiary institution has not yet considered your application.

Late Application

Applications received after the closing date.

Awaiting Results

The tertiary institution is waiting for further results (e.g., June, Trial, or final NSC results) before making a decision.

Conditional Offer

An offer is made provided that you meet specific requirements.

Firm Offer

You have been offered a place by a tertiary institution.

Has Not Met Programme Ranking Criteria

You do not meet the tertiary institution’s specific criteria for the programme.


The programme requires special selection procedures.

Please Supply Academic Record

The tertiary institution requires a copy of your academic record from the previous tertiary study.

Please Supply USAf/SAQA Evaluation

The tertiary institution requires a Universities South Africa (USAf)/SAQA evaluation of your foreign exam results.

Applications Closed

The application and/or administration fee was received after the closing date and will not be considered.

Refer for Decision

The application needs further assessment before the status can be changed.

Regret Programme Discontinued

The tertiary institution will no longer offer a programme listed in the Handbook.

Regret Unsuccessful

The tertiary institution has decided not to offer you a place.

Short-listed, Standby, and Wait-listed

The tertiary institution is considering your application but has not made a final decision.

Unsuccessful Following Placement Test/Interview

The tertiary institution has decided not to offer you a place after the entrance test or interview.

For more details about the CAO application status, you can download the PDF version of the CAO 2025 handbook.

student applying to university with cao application

Colleges and Universities That Use CAO for Applications

It’s crucial to make sure that your chosen college or university uses CAO for applications. If you’re unsure, don’t stress. We have the complete list of tertiary institutions that use CAO below:

Colleges That Use CAO for Applications

Universities That Use CAO for Applications

In terms of universities, there are few that use CAO for applications in South Africa, such as:

Keep in mind that applying to college or university is an exciting part of your educational journey. By doing thorough research, preparing your application well, and staying organised, you can improve your chances of getting into the program you want.

Make sure to stay informed about your CAO application status and meet all deadlines.

Good luck with your 2025 CAO application, and may your educational dreams come true!

students applying for cao application

Fund Your Tertiary Education with Fundi

After you’ve sent your CAO application, you might start thinking about the financial side of your studies. This is where Fundi steps in to help you achieve your academic goals.

Fundi offers study loans that can cover a range of educational costs. Whether you need help with accommodation, buying a device, getting textbooks or paying tuition fees, Fundi has got you covered.

If you’re wondering whether you qualify for a Fundi study loan, try out the Fundi Loan Calculator and get your academic journey off to a great start today!

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