College Access and Success

Enrolling High-Achieving, Low- and Moderate-Income Students Into Top Colleges and Universities

In the United States, research shows over 50 percent of high-achieving, low-income students do not apply to any selective colleges or universities despite their qualifications, and only six percent of the students at top colleges and universities are low-income. These students have limited resources to navigate the complex college application process as schools serving predominately low-income high school students have, on average, 500 students for every college counselor. But when these students apply to top colleges and universities, they are accepted and graduate at the same rate as their wealthier peers.

Admittance to top tier colleges has a lifelong impact

Students who attend top tier schools have earnings roughly 25 percent higher than those who attend less selective colleges. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ college access and success initiatives, CollegePoint and the American Talent Initiative, aim to directly help students apply to, enroll in and graduate from top institutions by providing support and guidance.

CollegePoint aims to directly help as many as 65,000 students apply to, enroll in and graduate from these top schools by providing support and guidance on the college and financial aid process. The initiative matches trained advisors from College Advising Corps, College Possible, Matriculate and ScholarMatch with high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students, as identified primarily by the College Board and ACT, as well as other non-profit college access organizations. The advisors use virtual interaction and communication tools, such as video conferencing and document sharing, to reach students across all 50 states. The initiative also developed free, high-quality online content on the college and financial aid process by Khan Academy.

The American Talent Initiative (ATI) is a coalition of top colleges and universities committed to expanding access and opportunity for talented low- and moderate-income students. By 2025, ATI aims to attract, enroll, and graduate an additional 50,000 lower-income students at the 270 colleges and universities that consistently graduate at least 70 percent of their students in six years. Learn more from ATI: Who We Are

Both of these initiatives aim to produce research on the impact of these interventions to effect change in higher education policies and practices and share successful strategies with school systems, counselors, other nonprofit organizations and education leaders across the country.

The college access and success initiatives are part of the American Cities Initiative, a suite of investments that empower cities to generate innovation and advance policy that moves the nation forward.



  1. See if you qualify for CollegePoint

  2. Find out about joining the American Talent Initiative