8 Awesome Organizations that Help Low-Income Students Get to College

Nowadays, college degrees are more important than ever. It’s estimated that by 2020 65% of job offerings will require a college degree. And with college grads averaging a salary double than that of their non-degree-holding counterparts, getting that higher level education is essential.

But getting into, paying for, and graduating from college is no easy task, and it’s only made more difficult for those students with low-income backgrounds. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 52% of 2011 high school graduates from low-income families enrolled in college immediately after high school, a figure 30 percentage points lower than their high-income peers. Nearly two-thirds of low-income students attend community colleges and for-profit institutions, which often have lower graduation rates.

Luckily, there are numerous organizations dedicated to promoting low-income students to accessing and pursuing the education they deserve. By reviewing school policies, working with students to create plans, finding scholarship opportunities, rewarding good grades, and advocating for equal opportunity, these organizations work hard to ensure that those with low-income backgrounds won’t be looked over or treated unfairly when it comes to education.

In this list, we’ll shine the spotlight on eight incredible organizations which have passion for equality, college success, and bright students.

1. Equal Opportunity Schools

With its goal of ensuring that each student receives the opportunity to be placed in challenging but rewarding classes, EOS works to have high school teachers talk with students one-on-one about educational opportunities and the benefits of AP classes. EOS has doubled and even tripled the amount of students taking higher-level courses with partnered schools. When pushed academically, students can discover just what they’re capable of, and inspire them to reach towards loftier goals than they might have previously dreamed of.

By working with schools, advisors, teachers, and students, EOS is changing the way education looks at low-income students. Google awarded EOS with the Global Impact Award, giving the organization $1.8 million in funding, which allowed them to triple the number of students they help.


The mission of MDRC is all about “developing and testing solutions to the wide range of challenges that confront low-income individuals, families, and children.” While the scope of the organization does extend beyond students, their Aid Like a Paycheck program—in partnership with TICAS—focuses on effectively utilizing the student’s financial aid during college.

By distributing the aid money on a fixed, bi-weekly basis, the program helps the student achieve a healthy balance of time and dedication between school and a job. Such a balance eases stress and allows the student to put the proper amount of focus on studying and homework, improving both grades and graduation rates.

3. The Education Trust

EdTrust seeks educational justice for all students, especially low-income students and students of color. With its promise of being equality-driven, data-centered, and student-focused, EdTrust works with educators, students, parents, policymakers, and civic leaders to transform and better the school system. By analyzing local, state, and national data, EdTrust takes a hard look at opportunity gaps, and works diligently to close them.

This passionate organizations works at the state and federal level to ensure equity in education. They help shape and re-shape policy by constantly monitoring the latest trends, offering solid data, and looking for problems and their solutions.

4. QuestBridge

Wishing to revolutionize the way universities recruit talented low-income youth, QuestBridge offers students unique opportunities in the form of programs, scholarships, and networks. For high school seniors, there’s QuestBridge’s National College Match—a college and scholarship application process that helps low-income students gain admission into, and financial aid for the nation’s most selective schools. For juniors, there’s the College Prep Scholarship—an opportunity to get a leg up on college applications. Additionally, QuestBridge offers the Quest for Excellence Awards—a program which encourages and rewards those who achieve academic success.

QuestBridge believes that low-income is not a limiting factor of intelligence or capability, and so should not be a hindrance towards students seeking a college education. The organization is partnered with 35 colleges to aid those students who are generally underrepresented in the higher education sphere.

5. National College Access Network (NCAN)

NCAN utilizes four strategies to assist states, schools, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and philanthropists provide better education access to low-income and underrepresented students. Their strategy of capacity building seeks to ensure that those who help students are well-trained and well-informed. By utilizing benchmarking, NCAN can standardize data that will help monitor, compare, and improve progress. Collective impact encourages groups that help support postsecondary completion rates. Lastly, their policy strategy fights to properly represent low-income and other disadvantaged students.

NCAN focuses on issues like rising tuition costs, confusing applications for colleges and financial aid, and lacking resources that all work against qualified students from pursuing higher education. NCAN takes their mission to the national level where they advocate for equality, diversity, and positive change in education.

6. iMentor

This New York-based organization matches students from low-income communities to mentors in order to empower the student to graduate high school, attend and graduate college, and achieve their goals. Students work with their mentor one-on-one, both in person and online, to develop a strong relationship, encourage college interest, and navigate the application process. Mentor-mentee matches can be connected for three to four years, or beyond into their first year at college, with the option of sticking with the program till college graduation.

iMentor not only helps students strive toward finding the best college for them, but also bolstering life-long skills such as critical thinking, self-advocacy, and curiosity. Though primarily working with New York public schools, iMentor has helped students nationwide achieve success.

7. OneGoal

OneGoal, as its name suggests, has a singular mission—to make college graduation possible for all students. This teacher-led organization aims to identify low-income, under-performing students and aid them towards graduation and higher education. OneGoal hires, trains, and supports dedicated teachers who wish to help students reach their full potential.

OneGoal works with students to increase college options, breakdown enrollment processes, and establish academic, social, and financial foundations. The University of Chicago evaluated OneGoal and found that the organization increased college enrollment and persistence by 10 to 20 percentage points in students in their program.

8. College Possible

This organization is dedicated to college success for low-income students by offering them support and coaching. Coaches guide students in preparing for college by meeting with them in after-school sessions. The junior curriculum serves to introduce students to college life through campus tours and summer programs. The senior curriculum helps students apply for colleges, financial aid, and scholarships, and oversees their transition to higher level education.

Coaches guide the students through the college process, ensuring that they are prepared, educated, and eager for college. Coaches even stay in contact with their students all the way through college graduation, providing support and encouragement throughout their education.

Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!

Allison Wignall

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7 thoughts on “8 Awesome Organizations that Help Low-Income Students Get to College”

  1. blossie jacobs says:

    I think this is an all some way to help people like us, my son and daughter wants to go to college and it kills me that I don’t have the money to send them. this is a good way to make women like me feel really good about my kids education. thank you all so much.

  2. Dewayne Robinson says:

    Need help applying for college

    1. Allison Wignall Allison Wignall says:

      Hello, Dewayne! We have many helpful articles in our College Guide: College Application section. The posts can cover anything from how to craft the best application essay, to creating a college list, to the pros and cons of different application methods. Hopefully you can find some answers there! If not, please let us know what you need help with and we will try to assist you as best we can!

  3. Dempsey says:

    My son is a student-athlete that is getting letters for unofficial visits. Are there programs out there that will help him find resources to travel to do these unofficial visits

  4. Myrna Barrera says:

    I can highly attest to the success of Questbridge, as I am a recipient of the scholarship and through the application I learned more about the educational opportunities available to lower-income students.

  5. Renee Crudup says:

    I have a friends daughter who has got excepted. She received some loans but not enough. She has to pay a large amount before she can start. She already paid for her acceptance fee. Which is nonrefundable. She really wants to go to this college

  6. Vignesh says:

    I want someone to help for my studies

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