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Agreement Puts College Within Reach For Foster Youth At Cal State San Marcos

Photo caption: Representatives from Cal State University San Marcos, San Diego County and AC...

Representatives from Cal State University San Marcos, San Diego County and ACE Scholars Services sign agreement guaranteeing former foster youth admission to CSU San Marcos, if they meet minimum California State University entrance requirements.

Cal State San Marcos and San Diego County expand a partnership to help former foster youth go to college.

Cal State San Marcos and San Diego County are expanding a partnership to help former foster children get into college.

The agreement with college’s ACE Scholars Services and the county guarantees foster youth admission into CSU San Marcos if they are first-time freshmen and meet the minimum California State University admission requirements.

According to a 2012 report by the nonprofit California College Pathways, fewer than 11 percent of foster youth go to college, while more than 75 percent of them would like to go to.

ACE Scholars Services helps former foster youth get into and thrive at CSUSM. It gives assistance with college applications, housing, academic counseling and career counseling.

San Diego County has about 6,500 foster youth, and when they turn 18 many are left to fend for themselves.

Catalina Soto, a sophomore at CSU San Marcos, remembers her first day at college. She said the ACE Scholars Services gave her much-needed help.

“I had no food. I had nothing. I came to San Marcos with nothing. I just had my clothes,” Soto said.

ACE helped Soto find a place to live and gave her gift cards to buy food.

Currently 57 students participate in the college's 7-year-old ACE program.

Julius Williams graduated from the school last spring and now works in the college's information technology department. Williams said foster children can fulfill their college dreams.

“We’ve established the groundwork where we can move forward and we don't have to be a statistic — someone who couldn’t graduate from high school or obtain a degree,” Williams said.

On its website, ACE boasts that 88 percent of its program participants have graduated from college. Nationally, half of former foster children who do go to college drop out before graduating.

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