As low-income high schoolers face massive disadvantages compared to many other college applicants, QuestBridge connects the United States’ most high achieving, low-income students to the country’s top universities. Founded over twenty-five years ago, QuestBridge is a non-traditional path for low-income high school students to potentially earn full-rides to their dream universities. With forty-five college partners, thousands of students have been helped by this organization, and students can begin the QuestBridge process as early as spring of their junior year.
What is the QuestBridge National College Match?
The coveted National College Match Scholarship covers the cull cost of attendance to each college – including tuition, travel expenses, room and board, books, and supplies – without any cost to the parent nor any student loans. This scholarship is worth over a quarter of a million dollars, and it comes with endless connections for students to utilize throughout their academic and professional careers. The scholarship does not come directly from QuestBridge; rather, it comes from the university the student is matched with in the form of financial aid. With the exception of one university, if a student matches to a college, they are required to go there for their undergraduate degree. The application for the QuestBridge National College Match opens in late July of the student’s senior year and closes in late September.
The QuestBridge National College Match application provides students with extra space to tell their unique stories as a student who excelled academically despite financial hardship. The application provides students with additional space to detail time-consuming responsibilities, such as caring for a family member or working a job to contribute to their household’s expenses, and it sets students apart from more well-resourced students.
As of April 2021, the forty-five QuestBridge College Partners are:
California Institute of Technology
Claremont McKenna College
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Chicago
University of Notre Dame
University of Pennsylvania
University of Southern California
University of Virginia
Washington and Lee University
Washington University in St. Louis
Am I eligible for QuestBridge?
The QuestBridge National College Match is available to high school seniors who live in the United States or in a United States territory, regardless of their citizenship status. Although there are no strict academic or financial cut-offs, successful applicants to QuestBridge are low-income, high-achieving students.
The academic typical criteria as defined by QuestBridge is as follows:
Mostly A’s in the most challenging courses available
Top 5–10% of your graduating class
At least a 1280 on the PSAT/SAT or at least a 27 on the ACT
Strong writing ability, intellectual spark, and determination found throughout essays and recommendation letters
The typical financial criteria as defined by QuestBridge is as follows:
All assets and household income are taken into account
Typically less than $65,000 per year for a family of four. However, this is NOT a strict cut off, and participants who feel they have faced significant financial hardship are encouraged to apply.
The main thing QuestBridge is looking for in applicants are successful students who have been able to overcome socioeconomic adversity in their pursuit of academic and personal excellence.
How do I apply to QuestBridge?
Eligible rising seniors can officially start working on their QuestBridge National College Match application in late July, but there are many components of the application that students can tackle beforehand. Additional information about the QuestBridge application process for both the National College Match and the College Prep Scholars Program are available at questbridge.org.
After submitting their National College Match applications in late September, students will rank up to twelve of QuestBridge’s College Partners in order of their preference. In mid-October, students will be notified if they have been selected as QuestBridge National College Match Finalists, and they will then complete the supplementary materials required for the colleges they ranked. In early December, applicants find out whether or not they have matched. Students who match are effectively done with the college admissions process and can rest knowing they will be attending one of the country’s top universities with a full-ride scholarship.
If students do not match to a college, they have the ability to move their application to the Early Decision pool with certain college partners, and they can move their application to the Regular Decision pool with all college partners. This allows students with more than one opportunity to gain admission into their dream university, creating a sort of safety net for students who may not be totally confident in their applications.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of QuestBridge?
Although QuestBridge is an excellent option for many low-income students, it’s certainly not the best fit for everyone. Below are a list of pros and cons of the QuestBridge National College Match that will hopefully help you and your parents form an educated decision as to whether or not QuestBridge is the right option for you.
Matched students receive a full scholarship
Matched students find out where they are going to college in early December – months before most of their peers find out
No application fees
Access to a vast network of former QuestBridge Scholars
Two opportunities for admission: the match and early/regular decision.
Limited to the forty-five QuestBridge College Partners
Inability to apply early to other colleges before match decisions are released
Binding offer to the college you are matched with (with the exception of MIT)
Competitive match acceptance rates
QuestBridge helps make an affordable – if not absolutely free – college education a reality for low-income, high-achieving students across the country, and it is truly a life-changing organization. To learn more about QuestBridge and its many programs, visit questbridge.org for more information.