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Promising Program Seal

Bottom Line College Advising Model

Blueprints Program Rating: Promising

A college advising program designed to support low-income and first-generation students during the college application process and throughout college enrollment.

Program Outcomes

  • Post Secondary Education

Program Type

  • Academic Services
  • School - Individual Strategies

Program Setting

  • Community (e.g., religious, recreation)
  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Selective Prevention (Elevated Risk)


  • Late Adolescence (15-18) - High School


  • Male and Female


  • All Race/Ethnicity


  • Blueprints: Promising

Program Information Contact

Steve Colón, Chief Executive Officer
Erin Harris, Director of Data and Evaluation

Bottom Line
50 Milk St., 16th Floor
Boston, MA 02109

Program Developer/Owner

  • Andrew Barr, Evaluator
  • Department of Economics, Texas AM University

Brief Description of the Program

Bottom Line provides individualized college advising to high school students starting at the end of their junior year. Eligibility criteria for the program includes: 1) a high school GPA of at least 2.3; 2) family income below 200 percent of the poverty line; and 3) being in the first generation in their family to go to college in the United States. Students are initially admitted into the “Access” program, which provides students with college and financial aid application support starting the summer before their senior year in high school through the summer after high school graduation. During this time, advisors help students identify well-matched colleges and then complete and submit college applications. The Bottom Line “Access” program also helps students evaluate the affordability of different postsecondary options, and then advisors actually help students apply for financial aid. Barr & Castleman (2017) reported that Bottom Line operates in several cities in 3 states (Massachusetts, New York, and Illinois). As reported in Barr & Castleman (2017), a unique component of the program is that counselors encourage students to attend a set of target colleges and universities within New York and Massachusetts that the program has identified as providing students with an optimal combination of quality and affordability. Students who enroll at one of the target institutions (approximately 50 percent of the students in Barr & Castleman, 2017) are eligible for the Bottom Line “Success” program, in which individualized and campus-based support is provided for up to six years following high school.

See: Full Description


Barr and Castleman (2017) found that, as compared to control students, treatment students showed higher rates in:

  • College enrollment
  • College enrollment in 4-year universities
  • College persistence

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

Barr and Castleman (2017) showed that college enrollment rates were larger for Hispanic students in the treatment group as compared to Hispanic students in control group.

Training and Technical Assistance

Bottom Line, founded in 1997, began programming in Massachusetts (serving Boston and Worcester) and has since replicated its model in Brooklyn, New York and Chicago, Illinois. While Bottom Line does not sell materials or a training program, it readily engages with organizations and/or community leaders interested in similar and accurate replications. Bottom Line operates with a centralized organizational model which ensures the integrity and consistency of the program. In addition to a National Program Team that leads program design, training, and evaluation, centralized support services are leveraged to oversee the organization’s finance, operations, and human resources functions. Regions are led by an Executive Director, who is supported by program and development leadership.

In terms of training, Bottom Line Advisors go through an intensive initial training period upon hire. Following the on-boarding, training is provided on each successive portion of the Bottom Line curriculum and materials. An annual new employee orientation is held each summer which provides both behavioral and technical trainings, including program-specific trainings for all new staff. The National Human Resource department also leads trainings for all staff on core competencies; performance management; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and other topics as needed. These trainings occur in person when possible, or virtually as needed. In addition, regions coordinate their own trainings on topics of interest to their specific staff. Ongoing training and professional development are key factors contributing to Bottom Line’s college success rates.

Brief Evaluation Methodology

Barr and Castleman (2017) conducted a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of Bottom Line on students’ college enrollment (overall) and enrollment into 4-year and 2-year colleges. The sample included 2,422 students from 2 cohorts (high school graduating classes of 2015 and 2016) across 2 regions (Boston & Worcester, MA and New York City, NY). Outcome measures were assessed using college enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse.