According to a new report by Julia Lawrence of Education News, low income students with good grades can basically write their own ticket to America’s best colleges. They need only to apply.

Elite Colleges Struggle to Attract Low-Income Applicants

According to NPR, what is quietly hampering the efforts of elite colleges to diversify their student bodies is the fact that they’re struggling to attract high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds. During the admissions season, Ivy League schools like Cornell, Harvard and Yale expend an inordinate amount of effort to find high-performing applicants who come from poor families, yet no matter how attractive the financial aid package they offer, the numbers remain flat year to year.

The terms offered to low-income students are very attractive. In addition to grants covering the cost of tuition, many schools throw in free room and board as well. NPR reports that for those selected, the cost of attending one of the best schools in the country could be lower than enrolling in a nearby public university — yet this doesn’t appear to have made a dent in their numbers.

Caroline Hoxby, who studies the socioeconomic makeup of student bodies in elite schools, points out to a recent effort by Harvard to offer what was essentially free tuition to students whose family income was below $40,000. The end result? An increase of only 15 students out of more than 1,600 freshmen enrolling in Harvard that year.

Hoxby says some college administers had confided to her that they had reluctantly come to the conclusion that the pool of low-income students with top academic credentials was just limited, and there wasn’t much they could do to change that. But in an analysis published with Christopher Avery in December, Hoxby has shown that this conclusion isn’t true. There is in fact a vast pool of highly talented, low-income students; they just aren’t ending up in top schools.