Closing the Opportunity Gap: How QuestBridge is Helping Low-Income + “A” Grade Students Beat Admissions Odds


Did you know that the majority of low-income, qualified students don’t apply to top colleges? With high grades and academic achievements, many would be as competitive as their peers at the most selective schools, including Ivy League institutions like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Yet, a number of socioeconomic factors either dissuade or prevent low-income students from applying to these schools. In comes QuestBridge. 

QuestBridge works to prepare the top academically performing, low-income students for a successful admissions experience, supporting students as they apply to selective universities.  



QuestBridge is a nonprofit that helps connect high achieving, low-income high school students to colleges and other educational opportunities through the National College Match and College Prep Scholars programs. Dedicated to helping students access and navigate the college process, this organization is working to build a bridge between the academic achievement gap. 

“Annually, approximately 30,000 talented low-income students nationally are academically qualified to attend the nation’s best colleges, but the majority of them don’t even apply to one selective college.“ 



Deadline: September 26, 2019

Grade: Seniors 

Starting the summer before senior year, students can apply for QuestBridge’s National College Match. The National College Match is a “college and scholarship application process that helps outstanding low-income high school seniors gain admission and full four-year scholarships to the nation's most selective colleges.” Last year, out of 6,507 finalists, 73% were first generation to four-year schools. 

Take a look at the college partners list and the dates and deadlines before you get started.


QuestBridge looks for senior high school students, regardless of citizenship, who have demonstrated academic achievement. Their criteria that aligns with their partner college standards, including 1) being in the top 5-10% of your class, 2) achieving an SAT score above 1310, and 3) demonstrating a strong writing ability.  

In addition to academic achievement, finalists generally “come from households earning less than $65,000 annually for a family of four, and often less.” According to QuestBridge, “This is not a strict cut-off and we encourage students who feel they have faced significant financial hardship to review these financial details carefully to see if they may qualify.”   

Personal Circumstances: 

QuestBridge takes into consideration your parents’ education level, any extenuating circumstances, and your extracurricular activities. See full description here



Deadline: TBD (This year’s deadline was in March)   

Grade: Juniors 

Open to juniors only, this program “equips high-achieving high school juniors from low-income backgrounds with the knowledge, confidence, and resources to apply to top colleges.” Along with additional resources and support, certain awards for being selected include:


Like the National College Match Program, QuestBridge’s College Prep Scholars program requires high academic achievement. Unlike the match program, the SAT requirement is 1280 (compared to 1310). All College Prep Scholars are automatically considered for the National College Match Program for their senior year.  

Personal Circumstances: 

QuestBridge takes into consideration your parents’ education level, any extenuating circumstances, extracurricular activities, and your personal traits. See full description here


If your family has a low-income and you have high grades, consider applying to one or both of QuestBridge’s programs. Being acceptance is a notable achievement, and you’ll receive support as you navigate through the college admissions process.