ACE (Achieving a College Education)

ACE (Achieving a College Education)

Earn College Credits while in High School…with ACE!

The ACE (Achieving a College Education) Program began in the summer of 1988 here at South Mountain Community College and is now in all the Maricopa Community Colleges. ACE empowers high school students to go beyond their comfort zone. We hope to motivate high school students to complete high school and continue to complete a college degree by helping students make smooth transitions between three facets of the educational pathway: high school, community college, and a university.

The three main goals of the ACE Program are to:

  • Increase the number of students graduating from high school
  • Increase the number of students continuing to college
  • Increase the number of students earning a degree or certificate

High school sophomores are recruited annually between August through December from Phoenix and Tempe Union high school districts and local charter schools to participate in this program.

ACE Application Form

Ace/Hoop Flier

9th Graders interested in getting a head start on your Healthcare Degree future!! First-year high school students interest in the healthcare field can apply to the ACE and Hoop Healthcare Program.

Plan to attend ACE/Hoop Healthcare Program Information Session:
Wed. 3/6/24 6pm-7pm SU100.

Applications are due March 22, 2024 Space is limited.

Download the Flyer!



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.: SMCC’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 that 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.

ACE (Achieving a College Education)

NOTE: Don’t forget to update ACE if you have a new email address, cell phone number or if you move.

Contact Information

Phone: 602-243-8250