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ACE (Achieving a College Education)

Earn College Credits in High School…With ACE!

South Mountain Community College enrolls eligible high school students through the ACE program where they can earn up to 24-college credits by the time they graduate high school. This program is designed to help create a smooth transition process from high school to college.


Achieving a College Education (ACE) is scholarship program to help high school students earn college credit. Successful ACE students earn 24-college credits, learn skills, and develop opportunities for growth.

The ACE Program has been in existence since 1987. Our first cohort of students began in the summer of 1988.

Any high school sophomore who attends a Maricopa county high school may apply. The application period varies but opens in November each year. Because of the 2-year duration of the program, only sophomores may apply. Selection is competitive.

Contact the ACE office or your high school counselor to request an application packet. The packet includes a program application and Student Information Form (located on the right side of this page). You will also need to submit an unofficial high school transcript.

All students will be notified in January/February each year.

Tuition and fees are free for ACE program students. Students must purchase required textbooks and provide their own transportation to and from the campus.

If you are selected to participate in the ACE program, you will attend college classes during the following periods:

  • Summer 2016: Two classes, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday. 6 credits.
  • Fall 2016: One class on Saturday, 8:30-11:45 a.m. 3 credits.
  • Spring 2017: One class on Saturday, 8:30-11:30 a.m. 3 credits.
  • Summer 2017: Two classes, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday. 6 credits.
  • Fall 2017: One class on Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m. 3 credits.
  • Spring 2018: One class on Saturday, 8:30-11:30 a.m. 3 credits.

A total of 24 credits is possible. Your ACE scholarship ends upon your graduation from high school. At that point, your ACE Program advisor will help you decide where you might want to continue your college studies.

Classes are offered in biology, business-personal computers, communications, counseling and personal development, critical reading, English, entrepreneurial studies, history, math, psychology, philosophy, sociology, and storytelling. Once you have been accepted into the program, you will take an assessment test to determine your readiness for college-level English and Reading courses. Your ACE Program advisor (similar to an Academic Counselor) will help you choose your classes.

Credit hours from all 100-level college courses or above are transferable to any accredited college or university. Courses below 100-level (e.g., ENG 081, ENG 091, RDG 081, RDG 091) are developmental courses that will help you improve your writing or reading skills to raise them to the college level. You will earn college credit for these courses, but they will not transfer.

You will take the Accuplacer test for English (writing) and Reading. The Accuplacer test is computerized and it is NOT timed. Practice tests and worksheets (link to these) will help you prepare. Since the SMCC ACE program does not include math courses, you will not take the math placement test.

  • Ask your high school counselor about Advanced Placement (AP) classes. AP and/or credit may be granted to students who have satisfactorily completed College Board Advanced Placement Examinations during high school.
  • 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. Learn more about Dual Enrollment.
  • Any high school student can take college courses at SMCC. There are specific admission procedures for students under age 18(link to information) and you’ll be required to pay all tuition and fees.

Application Timeline

October – November

ACE scholarship presentations and distribution of application packets take place at high schools in the Phoenix Union High School District and the Tempe Union High School District.

  • All high school sophomores are eligible to apply for the traditional ACE Program.
  • All high school juniors and seniors are eligible to apply for the ACE Cisco and Telecom Pathways.
  • Submit your completed application packet to your high school counselors. ACE Program Advisors will pick up the packets. Check with your counselor for application deadline dates at your high school.


All ACE applicants are notified by mail whether or not they have been accepted into the ACE Program.


New ACE Cohort Orientations include the following:

  • New ACE Student Orientation
  • New ACE Parent Orientation
  • Assessment Testing
  • New Cohort Registration