The National College Match application generally opens up in August. Students fill out the QuestBridge application, which is a counterpart to the Common Application and includes several word short-answers and three full-length essays. The application is catered towards highlighting the specific needs and backgrounds of low-income, first-generation students. The application is due late September.
Students have until October 10 to rank their school preferences if they want to continue with the National College Match process. They can rank up to twelve colleges. QuestBridge also recommends students to begin preparing additional requirements for each of the partner colleges around this time.
Each partner school asks for different materials, such as the Common Application, particular financial aid documents, or college supplements. On October 16, students find out if they were named QuestBridge Finalists. This means whether or not they are eligible for the National College Match process.
November 1 marks the deadline for specific partner college requirements. Through the month of November, each partner college receives the application of every student who ranked them for the National College Match and was named a QuestBridge Finalist. They do not know in which order the students ranked them. The partner schools choose among their applicants and send a list of desired students to QuestBridge. QuestBridge matches the colleges' rankings with the students' rankings, hence the name.
Students are matched to the top school on their list that also matched them. Around late November to early December, QuestBridge announces whether or not the students receive a College Match Scholarship, which covers at the minimum the full cost of tuition, room and board, and student fees. Students who were not named QuestBridge Finalists can still receive free applications from a variety of the partner colleges, and they are eligible to forward their National Match Application to schools which will accept it for QuestBridge Regular Decision.
The National College Match is a restrictive early process; students may not apply to any other early decision or action program until Match results come out. They can still be named QuestBridge Finalists, which means eligibility for Questbridge Regular Decision, and they can apply to any early process they desire.