Kimberly Liu 4 min read Financial Aid, Scholarships

What is QuestBridge, and Who is Eligible?

Many opportunities exist for students to earn non-traditional college financial aid, and QuestBridge is one of them. With roots extending back to 1987, QuestBridge connects America’s brightest students from low-income families with the leading institutions of higher education. QuestBridge’s National College Match Program offers selected students a full ride to the college they match with. This means that all expenses are covered, from tuition to housing to transportation. To learn more about the program and whether you might qualify, read on! 

 

What is the QuestBridge National College Match?  

 

QuestBridge’s National College Match is a college 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. 

 

How does QuestBridge Work? 

 

QuestBridge partners up with 40 prestigious colleges and universities in the U.S. to offer the National College Match scholarship. The scholarship covers the full cost of attendance for each college—including tuition, room and board, travel expenses, and books and supplies—with no parental contribution, and no student loans. Note, however, that the scholarship may entail student contribution in the form of work study or student savings. 

 

Which Schools are Part of the National College Match?

 

Amherst College

Bowdoin College

Brown University

California Institute of Technology

Carleton College

Claremont McKenna College

Colby College

Colorado College

Columbia University

Dartmouth College

Davidson College

Duke University

Emory University

Grinnell College

Hamilton College

Haverford College

Macalester College

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Northwestern University

Oberlin College

Pomona College

Princeton University

Rice University

Scripps College

Stanford University

Swarthmore College

Tufts University

University of Chicago

University of Notre Dame

University of Pennsylvania

University of Southern California

University of Virginia

Vanderbilt University

Vassar College

Washington and Lee University

Washington University in St. Louis

Wellesley College

Wesleyan University

Williams College

Yale University

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Who Is Eligible for QuestBridge?

 

QuestBridge National College Match is open to high school seniors. That means that to apply to QuestBridge in the fall of 2019, you must graduate high school before the summer of 2020, and plan to enroll as a first-year in college in the fall of 2020. 

 

Applicants must be either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or a high school student, regardless of citizenship, attending high school in the U.S. For students who fall into the latter category, it’s important to note that not all college partners will consider non-U.S. citizens or students who aren’t permanent residents. 

 

Academic Achievement

 

A high level of academic achievement is also a determination of eligibility for QuestBridge. In general, successful applicants have academic profiles that meet or exceed the admission standards of the partner colleges. 

 

Past finalists have obtained: 

 

  • Primarily A’s in the most challenging courses available (usually including Honors, AP, or IB level courses)
  • SAT or PSAT scores over 1310
  • ACT composite scores above 28
  • Class rank in the top 5-10% of the graduating class 
  • Evidence of strong writing ability, intellectual spark, and determination through essays and recommendation letters. 

 

Although these are not strict parameters, and each applicant will be considered in its own context, these numbers should give you a good idea of what QuestBridge is looking for in a student. 

 

Financial Need

 

QuestBridge finalists generally come from households earning less than $65,000 a year for a family of four. 

 

This includes all sources of family income, including rental income, retirement distributions, and child support. 

 

You can learn more about financial eligibility for QuestBridge here

 

All in all, QuestBridge is looking for students who have overcome socioeconomic obstacles to achieve academic and personal excellence. 

 

How Do I Apply for QuestBridge? 

 

Interested and eligible rising seniors should begin gathering materials to apply to QuestBridge National College Match the summer before their senior year. This includes:

 

  • National College Match’s online application, which includes two essays and short answer questions
  • Two letters of recommendation from teachers in core academic subjects
  • A Secondary School Report from your high school counselor
  • A School Profile (optional, but recommended)
  • A high school transcript 
  • Any standardized test scores. SAT and/or ACT test scores highly recommended.

 

At the end of September, applicants submit their applications. In October, applicants will rank up to 12 college partners for consideration. Later in October, applicants will be notified whether they have been selected to be finalists. Finalists will proceed to submit additional materials for the specific colleges they have ranked. In December, those who have matched with a college can relax in knowing that they have a full four-year scholarship to their college! 

 

Applicants who were not selected in October to be finalists, as well as applicants who did not match with a college can apply again and to additional schools as part of QuestBridge Regular Decision without any application fees. 

 

If you’re confused, take a look at QuestBridge’s flowchart of the application process. 

 

What are the Pros and Cons of Applying for QuestBridge?

 

If you’re not sure whether QuestBridge National College Match is for you, we’ve compiled this table to hopefully help you with you decision. 

 

Pros Cons
Full scholarship if matched to a college Limited list of match schools
Receive National College Match decisions in early December Inability to apply early to other schools before Dec. 3 when participating in National College Match (non-finalists are exempt from this rule)
No application fees National College Match is binding (except MIT, Princeton, Stanford, Yale
Application guidance
Access to network of QuestBridge Scholars
Two opportunities for admission

 

In short, while there may be some limits to the program, QuestBridge provides invaluable support to low-income students applying to college. For many students, it makes college a financial possibility.

 

To see where you stand, you can read last year’s finalist stats.

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Kimberly Liu
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Kimberly graduated from Smith College with a degree in English Literature. This year, she has been based in Beijing, China, where she works in the education field and rescues dogs in her free time. She will be starting her masters at Columbia University in the fall.