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Last updated August 8, 2023

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QuestBridge: Everything You Need to Know

Key Takeaway

QuestBridge is a non-profit organization that helps high-achieving, low-income students apply to and pay for college. Students can apply to up to 15 partner schools and may receive a full scholarship if matched. The application encourages students to share their personal context and challenges.

There are lots of things to consider when you’re applying for college. The application system you use is one of them.

While most students apply through systems like the Common Application or Coalition Application, you may be able to apply through a special organization called QuestBridge if you meet certain criteria. Specifically, QuestBridge is available to high-achieving high school students who come from low-income backgrounds, and it works through “matching” students with colleges. Since the program is a unique one, you probably have a number of questions about how it works.

In this post, I'll guide you through everything you need to know about applying to college through QuestBridge.

What is QuestBridge?

QuestBridge is a national non-profit organization that collaborates with selective research universities and liberal arts colleges. Its purpose is to help high-achieving, low-income students apply to and pay for college.

With over 50 partner schools, there are plenty of opportunities for hopeful students.

So here’s how it works:

  • You complete the QuestBridge application by the due date. (Note that the due date is much sooner than most Early Action or Early Decision due dates!)
  • On your application, you’ll rank up to 15 partner schools in order of your preference.
  • Colleges will review your application.
  • If you match with any colleges, you will be admitted to that college and receive a full-ride scholarship!
  • If you don’t match with any colleges, you can submit the Regular Decision QuestBridge application.

If you are matched with a partner institution, then QuestBridge acts a lot like Early Decision: once you’re matched, you must attend that college.

And QuestBridge isn’t just about the application. It’s also about financial aid.

QuestBridge match recipients receive full, four-year scholarships to their match school. That’s a scholarship worth over $200,000. And it doesn’t just cover tuition—it also helps you pay for other expenses, like room and board, books, and even travel.

Incredible, right?

What are the QuestBridge Partner Schools?

A full list of partner schools can be found on the QuestBridge website, here on their partners page. At the time of writing, the following 50 schools are QuestBridge partners. We've divided them into two categories — liberal arts colleges and universities.

Liberal Arts QuestBridge College Partners

  1. Amherst College
  2. Barnard College
  3. Boston College
  4. Bowdoin College
  5. Carleton College
  6. Claremont Mckenna College
  7. Colby College
  8. College Of The Holy Cross
  9. Colorado College
  10. Davidson College
  11. Grinnell College
  12. Hamilton College
  13. Haverford College
  14. Macalester College
  15. Middlebury College
  16. Oberlin College
  17. Pomona College
  18. Scripps College
  19. Smith College
  20. Swarthmore College
  21. Vassar College
  22. Wellesley College
  23. Williams College

University QuestBridge Partners

  1. Boston University
  2. Brown University
  3. California Institute Of Technology
  4. Case Western Reserve University
  5. Colgate University
  6. Columbia University
  7. Dartmouth College
  8. Denison University
  9. Duke University
  10. Emory University
  11. Johns Hopkins University
  12. Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
  13. Northwestern University
  14. Princeton University
  15. Rice University
  16. Stanford University
  17. Tufts University
  18. University Of Chicago
  19. University Of Notre Dame
  20. University Of Pennsylvania
  21. University Of Southern California
  22. University Of Virginia
  23. Vanderbilt University
  24. Washington And Lee University
  25. Washington University In St. Louis
  26. Wesleyan University
  27. Yale University

QuestBridge Timeline 2023

The QuestBridge process gets underway in the late summer when you start your application, and the application is free. Once you begin, here’s what the timeline looks like:

  • September 26: Submit your QuestBridge application by this due date.
  • October 12: Here, you can rank up to 15 college partners based on your preference for attendance.
  • October 18: Finalists are notified of their status. Only those who attain finalist status can progress through the "match" process.
  • November 1: Finalists are required to submit any additional requirements for the match process.
  • December 1: Match day! Finalists who ranked colleges find out if they matched.
  • December 10: If you don’t match in the initial round, you can submit Regular Decision applications by this date.

If you match, that’s it—you’re going to college! If you don’t match, your application can be moved into the Early Decision II or Regular Decision rounds to try again. So even if your first match attempt falls through, you have another shot. In the latter rounds, you probably won’t be eligible for a full-ride scholarship, but you are still up for strong financial aid packages.

Is the QuestBridge application different from the Common App?

Yes, the QuestBridge application is different from the Common App.

The biggest difference is that QuestBridge encourages you to talk more about your personal context and the challenges you’ve faced. You can write about a range of topics, from family struggles to the challenges of working to pay bills. The QuestBridge application's purpose is to help colleges understand the unique contexts, identities, and contributions of low-income students, so you’ll be able to share your story better than you would be able to through the Common Application.

Sharing parts of your personal life with a faceless admissions officer probably seems scary. But remember that the whole point of the QuestBridge application is to make it easier for you to share your story. And as you can imagine, your personal narrative can significantly influence your admission decision—admissions officers want to know who you are and where you come from so they can picture you on their campus.

Overall, QuestBridge can be a great option for high-achieving low-income students who want to attend an academically rigorous institution, need significant funding to afford college, and want some additional assistance through the process.


QuestBridge is a nonprofit that helps high-achieving, low-income students apply to and pay for college through partnerships with over 50 colleges. You can complete an application, rank partner schools, and may receive full scholarships if matched. The application encourages you to share your personal context and any challenges you’ve faced. Even if not initially matched, you can reapply in Early Decision II or Regular Decision rounds. It's an alternative to the Common App for students who need significant financial aid and extra assistance through the college application process.

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