Caltech's goal is to bring together students from all backgrounds, bound by a love of STEM. Every year, we're fortunate to choose from among thousands of qualified applicants.
But some of the applications we want to see most never arrive.
Many underprivileged students who are academically qualified convince themselves that a top-tier institution is beyond their reach: Some believe they can't afford it, while others simply doubt they belong. Our partnership with QuestBridge, a nationwide nonprofit group, seeks the best of these students. By participating in the National College Match program, you could earn a full, four-year, no-loan scholarship to Caltech or another participating college or university.
How does it work?
You'll complete QuestBridge's National College Match application which includes information about your academic standing and activities as well as a chance to share how you've managed to excel in the face of financial challenges.
Every year, QuestBridge selects thousands of finalists for full scholarship consideration, including expenses, from schools participating in the program. These colleges and universities will review finalist applications as if they applied directly.
If Caltech is on your list, we'll use the same criteria to consider your application as we would anybody else's.
QuestBridge timeline for Fall 2024 applicants
Who can apply?
The National College Match program is meant for students who have excelled academically and demonstrate significant financial need. In general, students whose families make less than $65,000 a year and have minimal assets are eligible to participate. (This number is flexible; QuestBridge makes case-by-case exceptions.) U.S. citizens and permanent residents can apply, as well as any student attending high school in the U.S., regardless of citizenship. Caltech welcomes applications from undocumented students and those raised in the U.S. through the DACA program.
What is the process?
After submitting your National College Match application, you'll rank up to 15 QuestBridge partner colleges you'd like to attend. QuestBridge selects finalists in mid-October. If you're a finalist and you've included Caltech on your ranked list, we will automatically receive your application. QuestBridge applicants, regardless of their status as finalists or non-finalists, don't have to pay our standard application fee.
Shortly after, we will send you an email with information about accessing our applicant portal and submitting additional material. The submission deadline is November 5. That material includes:
- Caltech supplemental application essays
- Official transcripts (if not previously submitted to QuestBridge)
- FAFSA application will be required once it's made available for Fall 2024 applicants (for U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens)
- CSS Profile is required for all Fall 2024 applicants
- Signed parent tax return or non-tax filer's statement
Letters of Evaluations
Finalists who want to participate in the Match and ranked Caltech will receive an email about the Beaver Breakroom where they can access, complete, and submit the Caltech-QuestBridge Supplement. The Supplement consists of required questions that require 200-250 words max. Fall 2024 applicants will be asked to review Caltech's guidelines on the ethical use of AI before submitting the required and optional essay listed here.
Caltech requires letters of evaluation from two teachers:
- one from a math or science teacher
- one from a humanities or social science teacher
If your QuestBridge recommendations do not meet Caltech's requirements, you must reach out to a teacher to request a letter for the missing field and ask them to submit by November 5. Your recommender may email the letter directly to our office at [email protected]. Emailed letters must include your full name and date of birth. Caltech recommends requesting letters from teachers who taught you in your final two years of high school, know you well, and can speak knowledgeably about your skills and performance in their classroom. Caltech would like your humanities or social science teacher to comment on your writing skills, so be sure to ask a teacher from a class with a significant writing component. Examples of classes that meet Caltech's requirements for teacher evaluations are available here.
If I match, do I have to come?
Yes. If you match with Caltech after including us on your ranked list, the decision is binding. You'll need to withdraw any other applications you've submitted elsewhere.
What if I don't match?
Finalists who don't match with Caltech (or didn't include Caltech in their ranked lists) can still apply through the Regular Decision process. Select Caltech on QuestBridge's Regular Decision Form, and we'll connect with you to let you know which supplemental materials you need to submit.
Non-finalists who choose to apply through the Regular Decision process are eligible for a fee waiver. Indicate you qualify on the fee-waiver section of the Common Application and select "QuestBridge" in the CBO section.
FAQs about Caltech and the National College Match
Students who match with Caltech through the National College Match are awarded financial aid by Caltech through a combination of institution funds as well as state and federal aid.
Your Match Scholarship does not require you to finish Caltech in four years. While it is expected that most students complete their undergraduate studies within four years, the duration of your program may vary depending on your individual circumstances and academic progress.
All undergraduate students must fulfill certain criteria to remain enrolled in classes. Specifically, they must complete a minimum of 27 units per term and maintain a grade-point average (GPA) of at least 1.9. First-year students are exempt from the 1.9 GPA requirement during their first two terms since courses are taken on a pass/fail basis.
QuestBridge Match students who have earned a full, four-year, no-loan scholarship, are enrolled at Caltech, and maintain Caltech's academic standards, do not risk losing their scholarship. However, it's important to remember that all students, including Match Scholarship recipients, must reapply for financial aid each year. This is because changes in household income, assets, or other circumstances can impact financial aid packages. Renewing financial aid annually is a necessary process.
Matched students do not pay back their scholarship.
Yes, you are allowed to take a leave of absence from Caltech. To formally request a voluntary leave of absence for personal reasons, you need to complete and submit an undergraduate student leave form, which will be forwarded to the registrar and other appropriate offices. While on an approved leave, Caltech still considers you a matriculated student; however, you will not be currently enrolled and thus will not have all the rights and privileges of enrolled students.
Students on leave have limited access to Caltech's educational activities, programs, and services. During your leave, you will not be able to attend classes or labs, reside in Institute housing, or utilize certain student resources such as Student Wellness Services and Residential Life activities, programs, and services.
Your Match Scholarship is specific to your enrollment at Caltech and is funded by the institution itself. As such, it does not transfer with you if you decide to transfer to another university or institution.
While we understand that individual circumstances may lead to considering a transfer, it is crucial to note that the Match Scholarship is tied to your enrollment at Caltech and the financial support it provides is specific to your studies and experiences at our institution.
For questions about your QuestBridge application and the National College Match, contact QuestBridge at [email protected] or by phone at +1 888-275-2054 or +1 650-331-3280.
To contact Caltech about our admission process, contact Karla Arriaga, Caltech's QuestBridge liaison, at [email protected] or call +1 626-395-6341.
To contact Caltech about our financial aid process, contact Nathan Rudibaugh, Caltech's Financial Aid-QuestBridge liaison, at [email protected].
If you are a current student and have further questions or need more information about taking a leave of absence, contact Associate Dean for Undergraduate Students, Kristin Weyman, at [email protected].