The QuestBridge Scholarship Guide
The QuestBridge Scholarship is one of the most recognizable scholarships for high school students in the country. With over 50 QuestBridge college partners around the country, QuestBridge College Prep Scholars can be found all over the US. These scholarships help low-income students attend elite colleges. QuestBridge offers resources to high school juniors and seniors and continues to support them throughout college.
In this guide, we will cover the QuestBridge National College Match and the different QuestBridge scholarships available to high school juniors and seniors. We will also look at the QuestBridge application and show you how you could become a QuestBridge finalist. Finally, we will look at the QuestBridge scholarship requirements and the list of QuestBridge schools that QuestBridge Scholars can attend.
What is QuestBridge?
The QuestBridge Scholars program began with eight students at Stanford University. The founders, Marc Lawrence and Michael McCullough, wanted to provide opportunities for low-income California students to experience a high-quality medical school education. The program soon grew into a residency with more than twenty medical students involved each year. In 1994, when Ana Rowena Mallari joined the program board, SYMSP became Quest. At this point, it started to incorporate leadership and community outreach training directed at first-generation college students.
Six years later, the Quest program expanded to Harvard University and began accepting students from disciplines outside of medicine. As the program grew, more Quest alumni joined the ranks of its staff. Eventually, Quest became QuestBridge, and the number of partner schools grew from two to seven.
Within two years, 26 partner colleges joined the QuestBridge program seeking to recruit high-achieving, low-income students for their incoming classes. Today, the QuestBridge Scholarship and QuestBridge National College Match continue to serve high-achieving, low-income students. Specifically, it provides them a pathway to elite colleges that might not otherwise be accessible to them.
What kind of scholarships does QuestBridge have?
There are two main QuestBridge Scholarships.
I. QuestBridge College Prep Scholarships
The first is the QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship, which is one of their college scholarships for high school juniors. The QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship aims to help high school juniors get a head start on the college application process.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many QuestBridge College Prep Scholars go on to become QuestBridge finalists through the QuestBridge National College Match. This program is designed to provide assistance and college scholarships for those who are often ineligible for other awards.
II. QuestBridge National College Match
The second is the QuestBridge National College Match, which provides full scholarships for students to attend a QuestBridge college partner. A student must match with one of the QuestBridge schools during the QuestBridge application process. When they do, that student will receive early admission and a QuestBridge Scholarship to cover the full cost of college.
The QuestBridge National College Match is open to high school seniors. However, QuestBridge applicants must meet certain financial eligibility requirements in order to apply.
Who qualifies for QuestBridge?
Both the QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship and the QuestBridge National College Match require applicants to meet the QuestBridge scholarship requirements. Let’s take a look at who qualifies for QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship and the QuestBridge National College Match!
QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship requirements:
A QuestBridge College Prep Scholar must meet the following requirements:
- Be a high school junior
- Attend high school in the United States OR be a US citizen attending high school abroad
- Plan to apply for college in the fall of their senior year
- Demonstrate strong academic performance (mostly A’s and B’s in rigorous academic courses)
- Have demonstrated financial need (typically with a family income of less than $65,000)
Additionally, QuestBridge College Prep Scholars typically have strong extracurricular involvement and awards or recognitions through their school or community. Moreover, many are the first in their families to attend college. While these are not formal requirements, they are typical among QuestBridge recipients.
QuestBridge National College Match requirements
Applicants through the QuestBridge National College Match must meet slightly different requirements:
- Be a high school senior applying to attend college in the fall of the subsequent year
- Attend high school in the United States OR be a US citizen attending high school abroad
- Submit the QuestBridge application by the application deadline (usually in late September)
- Demonstrate strong academic performance (mostly A’s and B’s in rigorous academic courses)
- Showcase strong writing skills in their QuestBridge application
- Have demonstrated financial need (typically with a family income of less than $65,000)
In many cases, QuestBridge finalists through the QuestBridge National College Match are high achievers, as are QuestBridge College Prep Scholars. In addition, many finalists are also the first in their families to attend college.
Both of the QuestBridge scholarship programs review applications holistically, meaning there is no GPA cut-off or standardized test score requirement. Similarly, there is no firm requirement for family income for QuestBridge applicants. With that said, the majority come from households earning less than $65,000 per year. Every QuestBridge scholarship applicant is reviewed independently, so there is no guaranteed formula for becoming a QuestBridge scholarship recipient.
QuestBridge Scholarship for Juniors
Of the available college scholarships for high school juniors, few provide as much support as the QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship. The QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship is a fantastic opportunity to get a head start on college applications. Students can even secure money for college admissions before entering the QuestBridge National College Match program. In fact, QuestBridge College Prep Scholars are five times more likely to be matched with QuestBridge college partners than other QuestBridge applicants.
Next, let’s learn about the ins and outs of this aspect of the QuestBridge scholarship program.
QuestBridge College Prep Scholar Program
The QuestBridge College Prep Scholar program has several benefits for applicants. In particular, the QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship provides an opportunity to both earn money for college and receive support throughout the college application process. Note that the QuestBridge College Prep Scholar program does not provide tuition awards—instead, it aims to fund expenses that will allow students to succeed in the admissions process.
Additionally, QuestBridge College Prep Scholars can attend a fully funded summer program at one of the QuestBridge schools. These programs are both residential and virtual and are offered at many of the QuestBridge college partners.
QuestBridge College Prep Scholars also receive a Quest for Excellence award. These awards cover the cost of college-related expenses, such as:
- Visiting QuestBridge college partners
- Paying college application or standardized test fees
- Buying school supplies like a new laptop
These awards vary by the recipient, so each QuestBridge College Prep Scholar may be eligible for his or her own award.
In addition, each QuestBridge College Prep Scholar receives personalized college essay feedback as well as other guidance throughout the college application process. This can be especially valuable for first-generation college students or those with limited support networks. The QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship also provides access to online peer support and a college fair. At the fair, QuestBridge applicants can survey the different QuestBridge partner schools and learn more about them.
QuestBridge College Prep Scholar Requirements
In 2022, out of more than 13,000 QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship applicants, only 3,414 were awarded this QuestBridge scholarship. Clearly, winning a QuestBridge scholarship is no easy feat—after all, this is an outstanding scholarship for high school students.
Applicants for the QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship must demonstrate financial need. Indeed, over 90% of students come from households with an annual income of $65,000 or less. Applicants must also demonstrate high academic achievement: 90% of recipients were in the top 10% of their class. Correspondingly, the average GPA for recipients was 3.93. Students may also submit standardized test scores to demonstrate their academic achievement, though these are not required for the application.
QuestBridge College Prep Scholar Application
Applicants for the QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship must submit their QuestBridge scholarship applications by March 22, 2023.
Remember that these are college scholarships for high school juniors, so only current high school juniors are eligible to apply. Applying is free and students can fill out the application form at the QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship website.
In addition to the application itself, students must also submit a high school transcript, a letter of recommendation from a core subject teacher, and information about their family’s financial status. Students should make sure they have access to their parents’ tax records when completing their QuestBridge application.
The QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship application is reviewed holistically. This means that all aspects of the application are taken into consideration when choosing winners. We recommend that students apply early and seek advice from teachers and counselors when filling out any QuestBridge scholarship application. This tip applies to any and all of the many competitive college scholarships for high school juniors!
How many students get QuestBridge Scholarships?
As mentioned above, the QuestBridge scholarships are some of the most competitive awards in the country. Therefore, both the QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship and the QuestBridge National College Match receive thousands of applicants each year. However, the QuestBridge partner schools can only accept a small fraction of the students that apply each year.
In 2022, the QuestBridge National College Match received around 18,000 total applications. Only 5,613 of those QuestBridge applicants went on to become QuestBridge finalists. This means that around 30% of applicants become finalists. However, only a fraction of those QuestBridge finalists go on to receive early admission and the full QuestBridge Scholarship.
In 2021, out of the 6,312 QuestBridge finalists selected, 1,674 matched with one of the QuestBridge schools. These numbers indicate that only about 9% of applicants and 26% of finalists go on to win a QuestBridge scholarship.
QuestBridge Scholarship for Seniors
While juniors are eligible for the QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship, there are other scholarships for high school students that are exclusive to seniors. These include the well-known National Merit Scholarship, Coca-Cola Scholarship, and the QuestBridge National College Match scholarship.
The QuestBridge scholarship covers the full cost of college at one of the QuestBridge partner schools, an award often valued at over $200,000. The amount of money awarded through the QuestBridge scholarship exceeds both the National Merit Scholarship ($2,500) and the Coca-Cola Scholarship ($20,000).
QuestBridge National College Match Program
The QuestBridge scholarship is awarded to select students who complete the QuestBridge National College Match process during their senior year. Students complete this process instead of filling out traditional college applications. In other words, students must complete a QuestBridge application that is separate from the Common or Coalition Application.
Because this process works a bit differently than a traditional application cycle, let’s look at the steps. After all, the best way to become a QuestBridge finalist and get a QuestBridge scholarship is to be well-prepared.
Students begin by creating a QuestBridge scholarship account and filling out the QuestBridge application. The QuestBridge application opens in late summer, meaning that students can start crafting their application materials before their senior year even begins. The QuestBridge application is often due in late September, although the exact deadline changes from year to year.
In comparison to other college application timelines, QuestBridge is due very early, so a timely start is crucial. Students should plan accordingly to ensure materials are submitted on time. Managing your time and school coursework is paramount at this point in the process.
Another key point is that the QuestBridge application is more extensive than most other application platforms. Students must submit their family’s financial information, including data from recent tax returns, which can take some time to acquire. In addition, the QuestBridge application requires two letters of recommendation, two essays, and two short answer responses. Finally, students submit a score report and a transcript from their high school; SAT or ACT scores are optional.
Ranking College Partners
After students submit their QuestBridge application, they must complete the match rankings form. Here, students may rank their preferences for up to 15 QuestBridge college partners. At this stage, students may research and/or visit the different QuestBridge schools to learn more about them. Then they use the rankings form to indicate which QuestBridge schools they would most want to be matched with. Though this does not guarantee a match with the top school, it helps schools understand student preferences.
After submitting their match rankings, students must submit a match agreement form similar to a binding Early Decision agreement. In detail, this states that students will accept any offer of admission given to them through the match process. Both the student and their counselor must sign the agreement in order to proceed with the match process.
Following that, students will then learn whether they are QuestBridge scholarship finalists in mid-October. Those not chosen as finalists may enter the regular applicant pool and submit any additional college applications that they wish. Those chosen to be finalists will move on to the next stage in the QuestBridge scholarship process.
Every QuestBridge finalist must then submit “match requirements” by November 1st to any of their ranked schools. Note that the requirements don’t need to be completed for every school, only for the ones that the student wants to attend. These QuestBridge scholarship requirements are different for each of the QuestBridge partner schools.
QuestBridge scholarship requirements may include financial documents like the CSS Profile or FAFSA. They also may include additional recommendations from teachers or peers. Finally, nearly all the QuestBridge schools require some supplementary essay or short answer questions as part of their match documents. Again, QuestBridge partner schools all have unique requirements that can change from year to year, so students should confirm them early.
QuestBridge National College Match Day
On December 1st, all of the QuestBridge partner schools release their matches. Students are notified if they have matched with any of the schools to which they applied. Anyone matched at this stage must withdraw any other applications and accept the offer from their highest-ranked match. As QuestBridge scholarship recipients, these students will not have to pay the total cost of attendance for all four years.
Students who are not matched at this stage of the process may use their QuestBridge application materials to apply through QuestBridge regular decision. Here, they may reapply for free to any of the QuestBridge college partners they choose. Aside from QuestBridge, students may submit applications to non-QuestBridge schools through the Common, Coalition, or other application platforms.
At that point, QuestBridge materials will be reviewed along with the rest of the regular decision applicant pool. Similar to match requirements, application deadlines for any additional materials will vary based on the school. As always, check the websites of the schools you are applying to for the latest information.
The process for applying through QuestBridge National College Match can seem daunting. Undeniably, there are many steps that need to be completed before becoming a finalist. We recommend that you begin your application as soon as possible and keep a checklist so you do not miss any important deadlines or dates.
How much is the QuestBridge Scholarship?
The QuestBridge National College Match scholarship covers the full cost of college at the recipient’s matched school. This includes tuition, housing, and books, as well as additional money for college travel and living expenses while on campus. Although the exact amount varies between the different QuestBridge partner schools, the average value of the award exceeds $200,000.
In addition, this money for college includes no parental contribution and no student loans. This means that QuestBridge scholarship recipients graduate with no student loan debt. However, part of the scholarship may include a student contribution through federal work-study or summer employment.
QuestBridge schools are so named because they participate in the QuestBridge National College Match and accept QuestBridge finalists. Although the program started with only one school, Stanford University, the number of QuestBridge college partners has grown to 51. This number includes six Ivy League Universities as well as many other elite public and private colleges around the country.
List of QuestBridge College Partners
QuestBridge Scholarship Requirements
The QuestBridge scholarship requirements for the QuestBridge National College Match scholarship are similar to those for the QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship. Students must first either attend high school in the US or be US citizens attending high school abroad. In addition, students must demonstrate significant financial need; many finalists come from households earning less than $65,000 per/year.
The other criteria are not firm requirements, but they do provide insights into the profile of a typical QuestBridge finalist. QuestBridge finalists typically earn “A” grades in rigorous high school courses. If they submit test scores, they are typically above 1260 for the SAT and above 27 for the ACT. Finalists also show significant extracurricular involvement in their school or community. Also, many have earned awards or recognitions for their achievements in high school.
Finally, according to the QuestBridge scholarship website, 77% of finalists are first-generation college students. This aligns with QuestBridge’s mission to open access to higher education to high-achieving students who need significant aid. Students interested in the QuestBridge scholarship can view all requirements and application review criteria on the QuestBridge scholarship website, here.
Becoming a QuestBridge Finalist
Once students have completed the QuestBridge National College Match application, the committee reviews applications. From the cohort, approximately 30% of QuestBridge applicants become QuestBridge finalists. These finalists are then eligible to be matched with any of the colleges they selected on their match rankings form.
The QuestBridge application is reviewed holistically, so there is no single formula for how to become a finalist. However, each QuestBridge finalist has managed to demonstrate high academic achievement while navigating financial hardship.
Spotlight on QuestBridge finalists
QuestBridge finalists come from all over the country and from all different backgrounds. Over half of the QuestBridge National College Match scholarship recipients identify as a race other than white. Additionally, around 25% have either dual citizenship or citizenship outside of the US.
We want to highlight two people who have been positively impacted by their participation in the QuestBridge scholarship program: CollegeAdvisor.com Scholar Bridgette and CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Expert Maria.
Bridgette was one of our CollegeAdvisor.com Scholars. Each year, CollegeAdvisor.com provides free, personalized college advising to students with financial need.
With plenty of CollegeAdvisor.com resources and her personal advisor Jasmine, Bridgette crafted a standout QuestBridge application. Together, Jasmine and Bridgette edited essays and made sure all parts of the application were up to QuestBridge’s high standards. Ultimately, Bridgette was matched with Northwestern University, where she plans to major in Journalism with a minor in Politics or History.
Similarly, current CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Expert Maria entered the QuestBridge scholarship program as a high school student. Her parents immigrated from Colombia to the United States when she was only five years old. Maria would become the first in her family to attend college when she was matched with Princeton University.
Though she later decided to attend Harvard, Maria’s QuestBridge experience inspired her to help other students like her with their college application journeys. This dream led her to the Harvard Financial Aid Office, where she worked directly with students navigating college admissions.
How many QuestBridge finalists are matched?
Because the QuestBridge program provides so much financial assistance, only a small fraction of applicants are matched each year. Only students who receive matches are eligible for the full-ride QuestBridge scholarship. In 2021, 1,674 students were matched; however, that number grew to 1,755 students in 2022. Indeed, as more QuestBridge partner schools join the program, the potential for more matches increases every year.
In addition, QuestBridge finalists who go unmatched may still apply to QuestBridge partner schools during the Regular Decision application round. Many students who apply this way still receive generous financial aid packages from the schools that accept them. Furthermore, students who apply as QuestBridge finalists have some advantages over other RD applicants. For example, waived application fees and the distinction of their finalist status can help QuestBridge applicants in the admissions process.
Is QuestBridge legit?
When vetting scholarships for high school students, it’s common to ask if they’re legitimate. You don’t need to look far to see the real and positive impact the QuestBridge program has had on its finalists. The money awarded through the QuestBridge scholarship is truly life-changing. Stories from finalists and winners illustrate the extent to which QuestBridge has improved their lives and changed their futures.
Since its beginnings at Stanford nearly four decades ago, QuestBridge has helped thousands of excellent students access a world-class education. With a strong track record of positive outcomes and many alumni going on to luminous careers, we can say, yes. QuestBridge is legit.
But you don’t have to take our word for it. You can find a list of many stories from QuestBridge scholarship recipients here. Each one showcases a high-achieving, low-income high school student who was given an opportunity through QuestBridge to receive a life-changing education at no cost to their family. Many QuestBridge scholarship recipients are also movers and shakers in their fields—maybe there’s a scholar in your area of interest.
Other Scholarships for Juniors and Seniors
Certainly, the QuestBridge scholarship is one of the most lucrative college scholarships for high school juniors and seniors. However, the QuestBridge scholarship is far from your only option when it comes to money for college. We have already mentioned two of the many prestigious national awards: the National Merit Scholarship and the Coca-Cola Scholarship.
Students looking for scholarships should look both locally and nationally, as there are many different sources of scholarships available. Local awards may be smaller than national ones, but the applicant pool is usually much smaller. So as to widen their safety net, a student who qualifies for QuestBridge would also ideally apply to other scholarships.
We at CollegeAdvisor.com have also compiled a directory of many scholarships for high school students, which can be found here. For more on how to stand out among the competitive merit scholarship applicant pool, click here. We also have a thorough Q&A about financial aid here.
QuestBridge Scholarship–Final Thoughts
The QuestBridge scholarship programs have helped many high-achieving, low-income students realize their dreams of attending a top-tier college or university. The educational opportunities opened by a QuestBridge scholarship cannot be understated. With new QuestBridge schools being added constantly, the reach of this program continues to expand every year.
Unquestionably, this program is competitive, and not everyone who qualifies for QuestBridge will receive a scholarship. However, it is still worth applying if you meet the QuestBridge scholarship requirements. Students must be hard-working, resilient, and academically excellent in order to make it through this long and difficult process. But for those who do, the reward of a full-ride QuestBridge scholarship is definitely worth it.
Students interested in participating in the QuestBridge scholarship program can start as early as their junior year by applying for the QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship. This initial application will get you started on your journey with QuestBridge and help prepare you to enter the National College Match in your senior year. Make sure to review all deadlines and QuestBridge scholarship requirements on the QuestBridge website before submitting your application!
Finally, if you are looking for personalized help throughout the QuestBridge application process, sign up for a CollegeAdvisor.com account. Students with demonstrated financial need may qualify for free advising through the Scholars program, which can help your application stand out. Good luck!
This article on the QuestBridge Scholarship was written by Senior Advisor Alex Baggott-Rowe. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.