Pathways to Academic Success and Opportunities (PASO)

Pathways to Academic Success and Opportunities
California State University-San Marcos
Academic Level
Issue Area
Key Personnel
Program Focus
First Year Support,
Institutional Change


The Pathways to Academic Success and Opportunities (PASO) aims to expand educational opportunities and improve the academic attainment of Latino students. With a focus on retention and graduation of Latino students, they address the achievement gap among Latino students by implementing innovative student services, culturally-relevant curriculum, and meaningful co-curricular offerings aimed at increasing retention and graduation rates specifically for Latino students.

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. PASO Scholars have demonstrated higher pass rates than the overall California State University San Marcos (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 are essential to assist with the high school to college transition. PASO has its own full-time Financial Aid technician, which has increased awarded Latino students. Upper-division students work as PASO community researchers with the CSUSM-National Latino Research Center gaining experience in the field. PASO offers a pilot Chicano Studies course that has now catapulted the request for a Chicano Studies major at CSUSM. 


  • 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 first-year students, demonstrating a higher pass rate than students taking 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 PASO students completed the verification process. Overall, 88% of all PASO Scholars were awarded financial aid, a 30% improvement in Latino students awarded financial aid.

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