Bottom Line

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help address educational disparities. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • Individualized advising for low-income, first-generation students above a 2.3 GPA
  • Help with college and financial aid applications starting the summer before senior year all the way through graduation.
  • Advisers provide guidance on college selection and filling out competitive applications
  • A select group of students enrolled in specially chosen colleges are provided with further individualized campus-base support
Target Population
High school-aged children
Cost per Participant
Approximately $4,000 per offered student

Evidence and impacts


Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by Social Programs that Work

A randomized control trial with a rigorous design identified Bottom Line as a scientifically supported strategy to increase the likelihood of earning a bachelor's degree.

  • A 2021 RCT found that participating in Bottom Line increased the likelihood of earning a bachelor's degree five years after high school graduation by 8 percentage points (55% vs. 47% for a control group).
  • The RCT also found that Bottom Line increased enrollment in any college by 5 percentage points (87%) and 9 percentage points at four-year colleges (79%).

Best practices in implementation

  • Targeting public high schools that have particularly high guidance-counselor-to-student ratios ensures that Bottom Line is reaching students who are most in need of assistance.
  • Students early-stage participation is key to their success in the program, so established relationships with public schools, community-based organizations, and other referral partners are essential in ensuring strong "hand offs" and high levels of participant engagement from day one.
  • Close relationships with partner colleges ensure that Bottom Line advisors are able to help students find colleges well suited to their individual academic, social, and financial needs.
  • A deep organizational commitment to data, evidence, and evaluation has helped Bottom Line build trust among public and philanthropic funders, maintained program effectiveness, and enabled continuous improvement.