Access College and Excel (ACE) Program

Access College and Excel (ACE) Program
The University of Texas at San Antonio
Academic Level
Issue Area
Key Personnel
Program Focus
First Year Support,
Learning Community


The Access College & Excel (ACE) Program recruits and supports ambitious high school students from predominantly Latino, inner-city schools to successfully transition to college and obtain a bachelor’s degree. ACE’s goal is to ensure the academic success of students and learning of life skills that will help students be successful beyond college graduation.

Program Description

Established in 1999, ACE was established as a core component of The University of Texas at San Antonio’s (UTSA) Downtown Campus, which was built to provide greater access to an affordable, public four-year institution of higher education to the predominately underrepresented communities on the West and South sides of San Antonio. UTSA proposed a partnership with the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) to establish an innovative scholarship program to encourage high school seniors from a few specific high schools in the downtown San Antonio area to apply, attend college, and graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

ACE offers first time, first-generation freshmen from a low-socioeconomic bracket individual advising sessions, financial aid workshops, tutoring, mentoring, academic success coaching, opportunities for experiential learning, and a renewable scholarship during their first two years at UTSA. The program achieves high student contact through offering of the College Success Seminar 1202 course and connects participants to resources on campus. ACE recruits high school seniors from 14 high schools across five school districts.


  • Increased first year retention: Of ACE’s 2017-2018 cohort, 83% of program participants were retained in their first year compared to 78% of Latino, non-program participants.
  • Increased 6-year graduation: Of ACE’s 2012-2013 cohort, 46% of program participants graduated within 6 years compared to 45% of Latino, non-program participants.

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