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College Board

Homepage Home > College Guidance > Access to Opportunity > Initiatives


Our mission: To help students recognize and make the most of the opportunities they've earned

To do that, we must change our assessment platform to propel students toward opportunities that include:

  • Rigorous high school course work
  • Scholarships
  • College admission and completion

Our new Access to Opportunity™ (A2O™) efforts identify and break down barriers that prevent students — especially low-income and minority students — from going to and graduating from college. These efforts will continue to evolve as we identify, implement, and expand initiatives to help students move forward in their education. Two of our direct-to-student initiatives are Realize Your College Potential and Apply to 4 or More™.

IMPORTANT: School Counselors Are Essential

All students should have access to personalized college guidance. School counselors are the main source of this guidance and play a critical role in the college admission process. The Realize Your College Potential and Apply to 4 or More initiatives are in no way intended to replace the important work that you do.



Realize Your College Potential (RYCP) is a student outreach pilot initiative that sends packets of customized college information and college application fee waivers to high-achieving low-income high school seniors.

Students will receive follow-up emails about how to plan for college and complete applications, as well as information on FAFSA deadlines and how to enroll.


Our goal is for more low-income students to enroll in a college that is a good fit for them, both academically and financially. To do this, students must have the information necessary to explore the full range of college options.

Research shows that:

  • Low-income students tend to apply to fewer colleges than higher-income students with similar academic records.
  • Low-income students apply to far fewer colleges that fit their academic performance than their higher-income peers.
  • Sending customized college information directly to these students encourages them to apply to a wider array of colleges and universities.

Choosing Recipients

Students are chosen to receive RYCP packets based on their academic achievement and estimated income. We select students who meet both of the following criteria:

  • Top 10%–15% in their class (based on PSAT/NMSQT® and SAT® scores and GPA)
  • Bottom 33% of the income distribution (roughly $40K–$50K and below)

Income estimates are based on data from the U.S. Census and other federal sources. We do not rely on self-reported income information. Research shows this to be a reliable way to estimate income, but there may be a small number of students who are not low income and still receive RYCP packets.

Inside the Packets

Students will also be directed to a customized website,, where they can find more information and additional resources.

About Sample College Lists

  • We choose colleges to include on the sample college lists from a pool of several hundred colleges and universities.
  • Selection pool includes in-state and out-of-state schools and public and private colleges.
  • Chosen schools vary in size, setting, and selectivity.
  • We do not guide students toward specific colleges, but rather provide examples that may help students in the early stages of college exploration.
  • Each student receives a different college list and is encouraged to use available search tools to widen their search.

If students do apply to colleges included on their sample list, we do not expect that they will receive preferential treatment.

Parental Involvement

We hope that parents will go over the RCYP materials with their children, and we look forward to receiving their questions at or 866-444-4025 (toll free).

Please note: RYCP materials will be sent directly to the student. Parents will not receive a separate mailing.



Apply to 4 or More is a national movement to encourage all students — but primarily low-income college-ready students — to apply to at least four colleges.

Research shows that students from low-income backgrounds apply to fewer colleges than their more-affluent peers. Research also shows that the more college applications a student submits, the higher the likelihood that student will enroll in a four-year institution.


Our goal is to increase the number of low-income college-ready students who graduate from a college that matches their academic abilities. To do this, students must first apply to and enroll in these schools.

Choosing Recipients

Most students who receive the Apply to 4 or More packets are chosen because they used a fee waiver to register for the SAT®. Others are chosen using U.S. Census data. PSAT/NMSQT® and SAT scores are also taken into account to ensure that these students are college ready.

As with Realize Your College Potential, this selection method provides a strong estimate of income, but a small number of students who receive packets and waivers may not be low income.

Inside the Packets


The Realize Your College Potential and Apply to 4 or More initiatives are committed to ensuring that students' personal information remains private.

  • We will not provide or sell information about participating students to any third party without the student's permission.
  • We will keep students' personal information secure and confidential.
  • We will use this information only for providing free college planning information and improving our outreach materials.


Join Us

We rely on counselor involvement, and we ask you to take the 4 or More pledge to assist all college-ready seniors in selecting and applying to four or more colleges that fit them best.

After you sign the pledge, you will receive:

  • A welcome kit with information on campaign participation and accessing resources
  • Tools, resources and templates, and promotional materials
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Local and national recognition opportunities
  • An online survey in the spring for you to share your feedback with us

You, your school, or your district may choose to participate in other activities that could result in local, state, and/or national recognition.

Fee-Waiver Fact Sheet

  • Students may receive up to 4 Request for Waiver of College Application Fee forms with their SAT fee waivers.
  • Students who use fee waivers for the SAT or SAT Subject Tests are eligible to use application fee waivers.
  • Students should send the Request for Waiver of College Application Fee forms to colleges along with their applications — NOT to the College Board.
  • Students should send the forms only to institutions included in the SAT Fee Waiver Directory of Colleges.

Realize Your College Potential Fee-Waiver Program

  • Participating institutions represent a mix of public and private universities across the country.
  • Students who receive RYCP packets will receive 8 application fee waivers.
  • Students will also receive information on other traditional sources of fee waivers so that they will not be limited in their college choices.


Some students who are not low income may receive fee waivers.

We are contacting these students directly to make sure they understand that the application fee waivers are intended to assist students for whom the cost of applying to college is a barrier.

We are advising them to use the waivers only if they meet the common criteria outlined by colleges, the Common Application, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and others.

Using fee waivers with the Common Application

Recent changes to the Common Application require students to confirm that their family financial circumstances qualify them to receive application fee waivers. Unfortunately, these changes went into effect after the RYCP initiative was under way.

You should advise students to indicate their true financial status in the Common Application Fee Waiver section of the application. Be sure to explain that if they do not meet the Common Application eligibility criteria, they may not use these application waivers for Common App institutions.


If students have any questions or would like more information about:

If parents have any questions or would like more information about:

If counselors have any questions or would like more information about:

Customized Entry Pages


Take a look inside the College Board's College Counseling Sourcebook (pdf/736K), 7th Edition, which contains advice and strategies from experienced school counselors.

The College Board Resource Guide: Ensuring College Readiness for All Students (pdf/4.4M)
A comprehensive guide to our key programs, resources, conferences, and more — for K–12 educators and students.

A quick reference guide (pdf/780K) to critical dates and programs of the College Board.

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