Pathways to Academic Success & Opportunities

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.


Latino students applying and completing their FAFSA and aid awards has increased 30%.   

Fall 2018 stats 509 total PASO scholars:

  • 83% Selected for verification
  • 91% Completed
  • 88% Awarded Aid
  • 87% Receiving Grants    
  • 34% Receiving Loans

This translates to a 30% increase in Latino students being awarded. PASO has translated financial aid forms into Spanish, created outreach materials in Spanish, and hosts phone banking events to make sure the financial aid is application is complete.

PASO is meeting its goals and objectives with increased Latino enrollments at 45% and increased Latino retention to 78%. The Total Unique visits to the PASO center increased from 235 to 1,422 .

PASO Scholars pass rates are 92% in "GEL" courses compared to an 87% pass rate of "non-PASO GEL" courses. PASO "GEW" pass rates are 85% compared to a "non-PASO GEW" course pass rate of 81%.