Pathways to Academic Success and Opportunities (PASO)

Academic Level
Issue Area
Key Personnel
Program Focus
First Year Support,
Institutional Change


The Pathways to Academic Success and Opportunities (PASO) Center is dedicated to increasing retention and graduation rates amongst PASO Scholars by infusing culturally relevant curriculum, enhancing existing student support services, introducing innovative technological approaches, and striving to promote educational equity at the institutional level. PASO has 5 goals:

  1. Enrich academic programs and curriculum to reflect Latino students lived experiences, strengths, and voice.
  2. Strengthen probation intervention and retention services.
  3. Improve efficiency and a positive impact of undergraduate advising services to help close the services gap for first-generation low-income Latino students.
  4. Close services gap for high-need, Latino, low-income, first-generation students not enrolled in special programs through mentoring, personalized academic support services.
  5. Strengthen the Financial Aid Office’s capacity to work with first-generation, low-income, Latino students and parents.

Program Description

PASO was created to address the retention and graduation rates of Latino students. Strong collaborative efforts with Student and Academic Affairs are infused into their Title V grant. The PASO Scholars have demonstrated higher pass rates than the overall CSUSM population and greater cultural connection with PASO classes. New efforts to reach students within Student Affairs, has yielded long term changes to the financial aid process, outreach, admissions, and CSUSM advising. Student Orientations for PASO parents and students to assist with the high school to college transition are essential. PASO hired a full-time Financial Aid technician and has increased Latino awarded students. Upper division students work as PASO community researchers with the CSUSM-National Latino Research Center gaining experience in the field. Offering a pilot Chicano Studies course that has now catapulted the request for a Chicano Studies major at CSUSM. Pre-registering PASO Scholars in PASO courses ensures they are on track towards graduation and has increased retention.


  • Increased enrollment and retention: PASO has helped increase overall Latino enrollment from 29% in Fall 2017 to 45% in Fall 2018 and Latino retention from 70% to 78% in the same timeframe.
  • Higher pass rates compared to equivalent institutional courses: All students in PASO courses are Latino freshman students and have a greater pass rate than non-PASO courses. The pass rates for PASO courses range from 85% to 100% and average a 10% higher pass rate than other equivalent CSUSM courses.
  • Increased financial aid application completion by Latinos and Latinos awarded financial aid: 421 of 509 PASO Scholars (83%) were selected for financial aid verification. Over 90% of the 421 completed the verification process. Overall, 88% of all PASO Scholars were awarded financial aid, a 30% improvement in Latino students awarded financial aid.