A growing amount of research shows that students from disadvantaged backgrounds often do not participate effectively in the college application process, struggle with applying for financial aid, and often do not get awarded all the aid for which they qualify. As a result, even some of the most highly qualified students do not attend college, attend colleges that do not engage their full potential, or do not complete their degrees.

We have compiled a set of important research on student access, affordability, and success. We continue to collect relevant research and we would welcome hearing about additional studies that fit these themes, at

Georgetown University Analysis Finds the Average Student Has Better Chance of Graduating at Selective Universities Compared to Open Access Schools

The theory that an average student, including minority students, will be overmatched at a selective university and will do poorly is empirically unsound, according to a new analysis from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (Georgetown Center). In fact, all students with above average test scores will succeed at a higher rate at selective colleges than open–admission colleges. Read the article

The Push to Help 50,000 More Low–Income Students Get Degrees

An estimated 12,500 students a year who could qualify for admission to highly selective institutions need financial and counseling support. That’s according to the American Talent Initiative (ATI), a collaboration of 30 public and private colleges and universities where low–income students graduate at high rates. These schools want to push themselves and peer institutions to enroll more of these students, and to scale up the most effective strategies that foster their success. Read the article

U.S. News & Word Report Introduces the Coalition App

The Higher Education division tells high schoolers about the new college application tool Read the article

Pressure to Build the Class

A 2016 survey of admissions directors reveals the growing challenges for building the next class. Read the article

How the Admissions Process Fails Low-Income Students

Two college officials look at a vexing problem: the declining percentage of low-income students going straight from high school to college. Vern Granger, a first-generation college student, now the associate vice president of enrollment services at Ohio State University, and Courtney McAnuff, vice president of enrollment management at Rutgers University, write about what they think should be done to change that. Read the article

The Coalition Application's Potential for Admissions — and Its Limits

Tara Garcia Matthewson from Education Dive examines the different reasons why two Massachusetts colleges, Wellesley College and Northeastern University, have decided to accept the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success' (renamed Coalition for College) application next year. The article discusses the benefits of the digital locker and the diversification that may come as a result of the Coalition application. Read the article

"College and Career Readiness" is Meaningless

Alex Ellison of Medium argues that it is misleading to use ACT or SAT scores to indicate a student's readiness for college. A better indicator of a student's readiness for college is creative efforts; however, these creative students often don't have the test scores that match their true ability. Read the article

How to Help First-Generation Students Succeed

According to the Pell Institute, 90% of lower-income first-generation students don't graduate within 6 years. This article discusses the ways in which universities can help first-generation students manage the "hidden curriculum"—the mix of bureaucratic know-how and sound study skills that can make or break a student’s first year in college. Read the article

How Can the College Application Process Be Improved?

Holly Korbey of MindShift discusses ways that the college application process can be more equitable for low-income students, and how the Coalition can help. Read the article

It's Not Only Rich Teens That Have Smartphones

The Atlantic discusses technology access for disadvantaged students. Read the article

First in Your Family to Go to College? Schools Offer Support

NBCNews article that focuses on programs that aim to make college more affordable for first generation students. Read the article

UVA List Helps First Generation Students and Professors Connect

The University of Virginia is celebrating first generation students by publicly listing faculty members who have also experienced socio-economic hurdles. The purpose is to connect first-generation students with faculty that have similar experiences. Read the article

Johns Hopkins Increases Investment for High-Achieving Students with Significant Financial Aid

Johns Hopkins will restructure its Baltimore Scholars Program to offer greater financial aid and support for high-achieving Baltimore public school students with significant financial need. Read the article

Brown University to Open a Center for First-Generation College Students

Brown, this summer, will open a center for its students who are the first in their families to attend college. Read the article

How the government wants to help the poorest Americans get online

Federal regulators are unveiling a plan to offer low-income Americans a discount on Internet access. Read the article

How to Make College Admissions Fairer

Ted Dintersmith and Ken Robinson discuss the inequalities in American education and how the Coalition can help. Read the CNN article

The Impact of Race and Ethnicity on SAT Scores

A professor at the University of California, Berkeley, analyzing the California residents applying to the University of California, found that race is now the strongest predictor of SAT scores, with socioeconomic factors known at birth now accounting for a third of the variance in SAT scores of college applicants. Read the research

Richer Data on College Applicants Help the Prospects of Low-Income Students

A new study concludes that providing selective colleges with more detailed and high-quality information about applicants' high-school backgrounds could raise the admission rates of low-income students. Read the article

Why Many Smart, Low-Income Students Don't Apply to Elite Schools

High-achieving, low-income students - especially those who live outside of big American cities - are often not applying to the nation's top schools. NPR offers three reasons why. Read the research

Students Who Get Left Behind in the College Admissions Process

Matthew Yglesias, Executive Editor of Vox, writes on the information gap that exists for low-income, high-achieving students applying to college. These students often do not understand the caliber of schools within reach, or realize that more selective schools might actually be more affordable. Read the research

The White House: Increasing College Opportunities for Low-Income Students

In 2014, the White House identified four areas where progress could be made to increase college opportunity, especially for low-income students. Using evidence-based techniques, the White House announced new committments from colleges and university presidents, nonprofits, philanthropic leaders, and the private sector. Read the research

Revamping the College Process to Improve Students' Postsecondary Outcomes

Research published by the College Board suggests potential solutions to expanding college opportunity. Read the research

Low-Income, High-Achieving Students Missing Out on Attending Selective Colleges

A study presented at the 2013 Conference on the Brookings Papers of Economy Activity highilights why many low-income, high-achieving students do not apply to selctive colleges and universities. As many as 35,000 low-income students, who are academically in the top 10 percent of all high school students, might be missing out on pursuing better college opportunities. Read the research

The Expanding College Opportunities Project

How two leading economics and education researchers tested the Expanding College Opportunities-Comprehensive Intervention - which provided additional resources to low-income students, at the cost of just $6 per student - and produced some promising results. Read the research

From High School to the Future: Potholes on the Road to College

Researchers at the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago spent nearly two years following over 100 students in three Chicago high schools. This longitudinal, qualitative study concludes that too many low-income students who achieve high levels of qualifications are still at a dramatic disadvantage in the college process. Read the research

American Internet Access and Smartphone Dependency

The Pew Research Center found that 15% of Americans have limited access to the Internet other than through their cell phones. And an increasing number of Americans are using their smartphones for many information seeking or transactional behaviors. The Coalition's mobile-friendly platform enables those without access to a home computer to still effectively manage their college application process. Read the research

Urban Institute

A study concludes that simplifying the financial aid process would make it easier for students to understand that college attendance is affordable and possible for them. Read the research


A study revealing that first generation students lag behind their peers. Read the research

Bastedo Contextual Bias Research

Analyses of high school information predicting admissions recommendation. Read the paper

Most Freshmen Apply to One College, Data Suggest

Data released by the U.S. Department of Education suggests that 68% of college freshman that filled out the application for federal student loans or grants were only applying to one college. Read the research

New College Application Will Help Students in Financial Need

Opinion piece from the leader of a nonprofit organization describing how the Coalition would benefit low-income students. Read the article

Campus Climate Around Socioeconomic Diversity Can Affect Academic Confidence

A series of studies from Northwestern University suggest that the academic confidence of low-income students is affected by messaging around campus climate. Read the research

Growing Number of Graduates Have 'Excessive' Debt

A new paper from Mark Kantrowitz, one of the country's most respected analysts of student aid, shows a rise in the number of graduates who are considered to meet the 'excessive' debt threshold. Read the research

University of Michigan Offers an Alternative to Affirmative Action

After Michigan voters banned affirmative action in 2006, the University of Michigan's enrollment manager, Dr. Kedra Ishop increased the number of minority students in the 2015 freshman class by almost 20 percent. This article discusses the Univeristy of Michigan's efforts to maintain diversity as the Supreme Court considers the challenge to affirmative action policy from other schools. Read the article

New Report Says Deck is Stacked Against High-Achieving, Low-Income Applicants

A report by researchers from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and the Century Foundation found significant evidence that being admitted to a selective institution is harder for high-achieving, low-income students. Read the report

Frank Bruni Writes on "Rethinking College Admissions"

Frank Bruni, an Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, previews the announcement of "Turning the Tide," a report from educators at top universities. The report analyzes the problems with the college admissions process and includes specific suggestions for improving the process. The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success (renamed Coalition for College) is mentioned in the Op-Ed. Read the article