The QuestBridge Application: Eligibility Criteria + Advice
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Aja Altenhof in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
QuestBridge supports low-income and first-generation students with the college application process. This article will go over the eligibility criteria for QuestBridge and will give you tips on completing the free application to the program.
Who Is Eligible to Apply to QuestBridge?
Any high school junior in the US is eligible to apply. However, applicants must meet certain academic and financial criteria. Personal circumstances might factor into your application as well.
The first thing that QuestBridge assesses is your grades and the rigor of your high school curriculum. In order to be a competitive applicant, you will want to have A’s in the most challenging classes available at your school — depending on your circumstances, these could be honors classes, APs, IB level courses, or dual enrollment.
Hopefully, your success in the classroom will translate to the second most important academic criteria — class rank. You should aim to be in the top 5-10% of your graduating class if your school reports class rank on your transcript. You will not be assessed on class rank if this is not the case.
QuestBridge is also interested in your test scores. Though the program is test-optional, meaning that SAT or ACT scores are not required to apply, submitting high scores can give your application a boost.
Around half of QuestBridge applicants in the past reported that they had not taken any tests by the time they applied in the spring of their junior year. Of the 2021 applicants who did report their test scores, 77% scored above a 1270 on the SAT or a 26 on the ACT.
Lastly, QuestBridge looks at one more academic metric that’s less exact than the others — evidence that you love learning and that you’re a well-rounded student. Taking classes in a variety of different subjects and doing educational activities outside of the classroom will demonstrate this.
Now that we’ve covered some of the academic criteria that QuestBridge applicants should meet, let’s explore the financial criteria. In general, the program is meant for students from four-person households earning less than $65,000 per year and with minimal assets. The ultimate goal of QuestBridge is to match low-income students with partner universities that will meet 100% of their demonstrated financial need.
QuestBridge will assess your family’s finances by looking at all the sources of income that are reported on tax returns, such as salaries, rental property income, investment dividends, and alimony payments. Assets, such as owning a home, are also evaluated by looking at tax returns.
The next thing that QuestBridge looks at is income that doesn’t belong to your parents, but still contributes to your household’s finances. An example of this would be a student with divorced or separated parents — in this case, they will still have to report the income and assets of the parent they do not live with most of the year. Exceptions can be made if you have not had contact with a non-parent for a significant period of time.
The last financial element that they take into account is your household circumstances. This could include factors like the number of people living in your house who are supported by the family’s income. QuestBridge is looking for applicants with an income-to-household ratio that is similar to $65,000 for a family of four — $75,000 for a family of six, for example, would qualify as well.
Factored into these calculations is the number of students in your family attending an undergraduate degree program. For instance, if you have siblings who are already in college, QuestBridge will take that into account.
The application allows you to report personal circumstances that caused financial hardship. These can include periods of unemployment in the family, large medical bills, and your eligibility for free or reduced lunch.
Being a first-generation student is one more personal circumstance that will make you eligible for QuestBridge. You can count yourself in this category if you are the first in your family to attend a four year college in the US. If one or both of your parents have graduated from universities outside the US, you will still be considered a first-generation student.