ACE Program

What is ACE?


Application will be due January 31, 2024, please turn in paper packets to your high school counselor or submit an online application!

Achieving a College Education (ACE) is a nationally recognized, competitive application-based college preparation program for high school students.

The ACE Program targets first-generation college students to help them explore, prepare, and work towards achieving a college education. All first-generation students, college exploratory, or students who are ready to challenge themselves with the opportunity to work towards a college education while in high school, are encouraged to apply!

The mission of the ACE Program is to academically prepare students, increase graduation rates among first generation college bound students, and to assist students in making a seamless transition from high school into community college and then to transfer into a four-year university to complete a baccalaureate degree.


  • Demystify higher education, its requirements, costs, and benefits.
  • Integrate students with college life.
  • Provide tools for students to succeed socially, academically, and personally.
  • Provide tools/courses for students to identify academic, career, and vocational goals and interests.
  • Provide continuous follow-up and support to each cohort to ensure academic retention and student success.
  • Identify scholarship opportunities and provide financial aid.
  • Empower parents/guardians to become actively involved in their children's educational endeavors.

ACE Program Structure

ACE is designed as a "2+2+2" program. Students are recruited, take courses, and are mentored while attending high school. Upon completion of high school and the ACE Program, students may continue at SCC or a community college of their choice to earn an Associate's Degree, and then transfer to a university to complete a Baccalaureate Degree.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Achieving a College Education (ACE) is a scholarship program to help high school students earn college credit while learning skills to be a successful college student. Successful ACE students can possibly earn 24-college credits by the end of two years, become familiar with college life, gain tools for success socially, academically, and personally.

Any high school sophomore who attends a Maricopa County high school and has taken at least 6 high school credits at the time of the application submission; there is no GPA requirement. The application period begins in August and closes on December 15th of each year. Because of the 2-year duration of the program, only sophomores may apply and selection is competitive. Please check with your high school counselor for application deadline dates at your school.

Eligibility: Applicants must have one or more of the following characteristics to be eligible:

  • First generation to attend college
  • Demonstrated financial need (single-parent home, economic hardship, etc.)
  • Under-represented population
  • Environmental risk factors (will be considered on a case-by-case basis), i.e:
    • Works 10-30 hours weekly
    • Lives in the foster care environment
    • Lives in temporary housing
    • Teen parent
  • Legacy-sibling or relative of an ACE participant

The ACE Scholarship covers all tuition. Parents/Students must pay for all Registration and class fees each semester and any books needed for their class.

If you applied and are on our alternate list, you can choose to be in the program as a Self-Pay student. The student will participate in the ACE program and receive all the benefits of being in ACE without receiving the ACE Scholarship. The students will still be responsible for participating in all ACE Institute activities (study lab, tutoring and workshops).

If you are selected to participate in the ACE program, you will attend college classes during the following semesters during your junior and senior year of high school:

Semesters Duration Days # of classes/Credits earned
Summer 5 weeks
(Classes begin on the Tuesday after Memorial Day until the end of June)
Monday - Thursday 8:30-12:30 2 classes/6 credits
Fall 14 weeks
(August - November)
Saturdays 8:30-11:45 1 class/3 credits
Spring 14 weeks
(January - April)
Saturdays 8:30 - 11:45 1 class/3 credits

All classes taken in the ACE program are General Education Courses that all college students take. (English, Reading, Humanities, Social & Behavioral, Communications, Computer Science courses)

Credit hours from all 100-level college courses or above can be used towards completing an Associate Degree at Maricopa Community Colleges. The credits earned are also transferable to any accredited college or university. If you are planning to attend a college/university outside of the state it is recommended that you check with them on how many credits they will accept.

  • Dual Enrollment.: SCC's Dual Enrollment Program is a great way for high school juniors and seniors to get a head start on their college education.
  • HOOP Program: Like the ACE program but this program is to empower American Indian students to complete high school and transition successfully to higher education.

  1. Recommendations: First/Last name and email of two (2) people who will recommend you to the program (teacher, coach, counselor, someone that knows you well academically & socially) no family members.
  2. Unofficial High School Transcript (this is to verify the number of credits you have)
  3. Essay (300 words): How will participating in the ACE Program help you reach the goal you have set for yourself?
    • Be specific in your answer, we want to hear about you, your story and why you would like to participate in this program.  Be sure to include:
      • Your future career, education and personal goals and why you would want to accomplish them.
      • Any obstacles that may slow you down
      • Why you believe that college is important to you
      • Your personal achievements (in and out of school)
      • Challenges (currently or that you’ve overcome)
      • A person, event, or endeavor that has significantly influenced your life while attending high school.
      • How this program will help you reach your goals.

Students will be notified by email if their application was incomplete, accepted, or put on the alternate list.

Students who are accepted into the ACE program will receive a scholarship offer. They will need to accept the scholarship and attend a mandatory New ACE Student/Parent Orientation and complete the needed assessments for class placement before starting the program.