Authorized by the Nebraska Legislature in 2007, the Access College Early (ACE) Scholarship Program pays tuition and mandatory fees for qualified, low-income high school students to enroll in college courses from eligible Nebraska colleges or universities, either through dual-enrollment or early enrollment agreements with these institutions.
The Coordinating Commission administers this program, which helped more than 1,000 high-school students earn nearly 4,600 college credit hours in 2009-10. The success of this program is easy to quantify: Nearly 81 percent of ACE scholarship recipients go on to college, compared to only 51 percent of other low-income students.
Beyond the impressive numbers, however, is the praise this program receives from high-school guidance counselors across the state. Here are a few:
"The ACE scholarship has provided countless opportunities for our students that would have been impossible otherwise. Because of ACE, we now have more students attending college and pursuing degrees than ever before. Because they get an early start on college, they that they truly are ‘college material...This program has truly been a godsend for our students and school. Without it, our students’ dreams would be just that—a dream. With the program, those dreams are now realities."
"ACE has been a wonderful assistance for many students who normally would not be financially able to take college classes while still in high school. Not only do the students get a head start on their college classes, but it also gives the students the knowledge and confidence to continue their college education after graduating from college."
"The students who qualify for the scholarship are often the same students who need the encouragement to pursue college. By being able to afford a course or two in high school, they have more confidence in their ability to pursue college and are more likely to do so after they graduate from high school. We all know the importance of increasing the college-going rate of Nebraska students, and this is a very important way to increase those numbers."
"We need our entire workforce to be competent and fulfilling their potential. The ACE program proves to students that they could be part of that competent workforce. The college credits are valuable, but the confidence builder and pride that is instilled in the student is really invaluable! Worth every penny!"