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Frequently Asked Questions

What is ACE Scholars Services?

ACE Scholars Services supports former foster youth in their efforts to obtain a college education at CSUSM. The program provides a variety of personalized services including advising, priority class registration, counseling, access to resources in the Jan and Esther Stearns Center for ACE Scholars, recreational events, workshops and more.

How do I know if I’m eligible to participate in the ACE Scholars Services program?

Incoming CSUSM freshmen and transfer students age 26 or younger who were in foster care on or after their 13th birthday for at least two years are invited to apply to the program. Those who have been in foster care for less than two years but are participating in Extended Foster Care are also eligible to apply.

Does ACE Scholars Services pay for my education costs?

As a former foster youth, you qualify for significant financial aid through a variety of grants in addition to receiving Extended Foster Care benefits; this typically provides ACE Scholars with the financial resources needed to meet most of the costs of their education expenses. ACE Scholars Services does provide emergency financial assistance, textbook funds, and resources for a variety of scholarship opportunities.

How do I apply for ACE Scholar Services?

To apply, complete and submit our online ACE Scholars Services Program Application.

When do I apply for ACE Scholars Services?

If you are an incoming freshmen, apply in the Fall semester of high school senior year. Transfer students should apply in the Fall a year prior to their planned transfer. Following review of your application, it will be necessary for you to submit Verification of Dependency documenting your foster care placement. 

*Please note: Applications to attend CSUSM must be submitted between October 1st and November 30th; refer to Cal State Apply for more information about the CSU application process.

When will I know if I am accepted into the ACE Scholars Services program?

Applicants who have applied to ACE Scholars, meet CSU eligibility criteria, and have received “conditional admission” status at CSUSM will be scheduled to attend a personal campus tour and interview with ACE Scholars staff, usually in February or March.  This is the final step in the application process so you will know if you are accepted into the ACE Scholars Services program at that point.

Can I change my mind about attending CSUSM if I have applied to ACE Scholars Services?

Your application to ACE Scholars Services does not mean that you are obligated to attend CSUSM if you change your mind.    

Do ACE Scholars live in CSUSM student housing?

Freshmen ACE Scholars are required to live in CSUSM student housing during the Fall and Spring Semesters; there are no exceptions. ACE Scholars who are participating in Extended Foster Care may be eligible to apply for the reduced cost CSUSM THP+FC housing option.

What is Summer Early Start and do I have to attend?

Summer Early Start is a 5-week program for CSUSM incoming freshmen designed to strengthen English and math skills. Students attend classes and reside in on-campus housing during Early Start. It is also an opportunity to meet other CSUSM students and to connect with campus resources. Attendance in Early Start is a program requirement for all ACE Scholars freshmen.

Does being an ACE Scholar make me different from the rest of the students at CSUSM?

At CSUSM, as an ACE Scholar you are a college student who has the benefit of receiving specialized supportive services. You will find that the CSUSM campus is friendly and diverse; ACE Scholars feel welcome and comfortable within the CSUSM student community. ACE Scholars are involved in athletics, student government, residence life and a variety of campus clubs and activities. Often an ACE Scholar will grow to feel a sense of pride that s/he was able to beat the odds to achieve the goal of becoming a successful college student. In our experience, many ACE Scholars seek opportunities to share their personal stories as a way to support and inspire others; most feel proud of their connection to ACE Scholars Services and the support they receive from the program.