Consider an organization that receives 30 to 50 resumes for a single job posting. The recognition of the degree and the school it was conferred will be part of the first cut. If the name of the school has poor recall recognition in the hiring manager's mind, it will unlikely get past the first cut. Good people are left behind because employers have a degree bias.
There is a difference between brand recognition and quality of learning. If a person attends an elite school, pays twice the amount of money, and earns a lower quality degree than a state school they will still be first in line for the opportunity. The minimum qualifications and perceived value of the degree count in making one stand out.
After the top candidates are called for interviews their work skills, communication abilities, prior experience, presentation, and other factors make a greater impression. The hiring manager will look at the overall background and "right fit" of the individual to the organization. If the overall interview goes well, the perceived value of the degree counts less.
There is a lesson for hiring managers and schools. It is important not to side step great candidates only because they didn't come from a wealthy background. Schools should learn to raise their market quality and brand image when they can. The reputation of the school may do more than the actual learning that has taken place. Once the candidate has made their way to the interview, then other factors like knowledge become important.
Osoian, C., Nistor, R. & Zaharie, M. (2010). Qualitative and quantitative analysis of the employers' view upon quality of education. Proceedings of the European Conference on Research Methods for Business & Management Studies, p. 409-414 (Conference).