In response to growing income stratification in higher education, President Obama convened a White House Summit in 2014 where over 100 selective institutions committed to increasing the number of low-income students on their campus. One way colleges proposed to do so is through partnerships with college access organizations like QuestBridge, a nonprofit organization that aims to increase the percentage of low-income students at elite universities. While institutions purport that QuestBridge improved socioeconomic diversity, empirical research has not confirmed these claims. In this study, we estimate the effect of QuestBridge on overall access of Pell eligible students at partner institutions using quasi-experimental methods. We find no increase in the economic diversity of colleges after establishing a partnership with QuestBridge, except for colleges simultaneously partnering with QuestBridge and enacting no-loan financial aid policies. We also consider whether participation in QuestBridge increases institutional status through larger application volumes and increased selectivity, and discuss implications for research and practice in the area of stratification.
Research in Higher Education – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 8, 2016
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