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ASCENT

Accelerating Students Through Concurrent Enrollment

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ASCENT is a fifth year high school program that allows students to attend college full-time for one year after high school for free. Students attend a participating technical-, community-, or 4 year-college the year following graduation from high school.

Passed into law in 2009, the ASCENT program gives students a head start in earning a certificate, associate’s, or bachelor’s degree – all while saving time and money. The DPS ASCENT team provides participating students with wrap-around advising services to support the critical transition from high school to college.

About ASCENT

What are the benefits of ASCENT?

  • One full year of college tuition and fees are paid for!
  • Save time and money on college – between $5,000 – $10,000 depending on the program.
  • Wrap-around student support services provided in the transition from high school to college that includes:
    • Advising
    • Social-emotional support
    • FAFSA support
    • Scholarship support
    • Job search, resume/cover letter/mock interview support
    • Transferring from one college to another (in state or out of state)
    • Letter of recommendation
    • Course scheduling
    • Career counseling
    • Campus resource referrals

Where can I attend college through ASCENT?

Arapahoe Community College Community College of Aurora Community College of Denver EGTC Logo
FRCC Logo Metropolitan State University of Denver Pickens Technical College Logo Red Rocks Community College

How do I become eligible for ASCENT?

  • Students who have met all high school graduation requirements by the end of 12th grade.
  • Students who have completed 12 credits* of college coursework by end of 12th grade: 
  • Students who are college-ready in English and Mathematics. College ready in English and Math is demonstrated by:
    • Achieving a passing score on the English/Math Accuplacer
    • Passing an English and Math CE course
    • Passing score on SAT/ACT
    • Or a grade waiver (only applies to community colleges)
    • Talk to your counselor to determine your eligibility
  • Students who have applied for the following:
    • COF (College Opportunity Fund)
    • Financial Aid
    • Apply and be admitted to a participating Colorado college or university
  • Students who are currently in the 13th grade or a 5th year program are not eligible.

How do students apply to ASCENT?

The Application Process

The steps to apply are listed below. Connect with your school counselor to apply for ASCENT.

Step 1: ASCENT Application Worksheet 

Step 2: Online ASCENT Application

Step 3: Signed Agreement Form (Due April 2021)

Apply for Financial Aid*

In addition to the ASCENT application, make sure to apply to: 

  • College Opportunity Fund (COF)
  • Federal and State Financial Aid  (FAFSA or ASSET/CASFA)
  • Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF)
  • College Specific Scholarships
  • Private Scholarships

*Important: Many scholarships require that you officially graduate from high school to receive them. Therefore, if you earn a scholarship and also decide to participate in ASCENT, you will likely have to forfeit or defer the scholarship.

Important Dates to Remember

November 1, 2020: Application Opens

March 1, 2021: Application Closes

April 6, 2021: Conditional Acceptance

May/June 2021: Final Acceptance (pending CDE slots and AP/IB/CLEP scores)

*Note

ASCENT funding can vary year to year and therefore ASCENT slots are not guaranteed even for students who meet all eligibility criteria.  Due to this, it is imperative that each student develops an alternate financial aid plan in addition to ASCENT.

Student Scenarios

Scenario 1: Andrea

High School Profile
- Completed HS in May 2019
- Earned 28 credits as a HS student for FREE at CCA and CSU Global
- Saved $4,300+
- Not eligible for Pell Grant
- Decided to participate in ASCENT because of limited funding opportunities

ASCENT Profile
- Earned 32 credits in the ASCENT program at CCA for FREE
- Completed Associates degree in May 2020
- Saved $4,900+
- Transferred to MSU Denver in August 2020

Total Saved with Concurrent Enrollment and ASCENT: $9,200+*
*does not include fees

Scenario 2: Oscar

High School Profile
- Completed HS in May 2019
- Earned 30 credits as a HS student for FREE at EGTC
- Eligible for Pell Grant
- Decided to participate in ASCENT because of the textbook stipend and the additional one-on-one support

ASCENT Profile
- Earned remaining credits for Automotive Service for FREE in the ASCENT program
- Completed Automotive certificate in May 2020
- Began working as an Automotive Technician

Total Saved with Concurrent Enrollment and ASCENT: $9,900+

Scenario 3: Gabby

High School Profile
- Completed HS in May 2019
- Earned 13 CE credits as a HS student for FREE at CCD and 12 credits by passing AP exams
- Earned a total of 25 college credits by combining CE courses and AP exams
- Saved $3,800+
- Not eligible for Pell Grant
- Decided to participate in ASCENT because of limited funding opportunities

ASCENT Profile
- Earned 30 credits in the ASCENT program for FREE at CCD
- Will complete Associates in Business with focus on Accounting in December 2020
- Saved $4,600+
- Will transfer to a 4 year college in January 2021

Total Saved with Concurrent Enrollment, AP and ASCENT: $8,400+*
*does not include fees

"The most beneficial aspect was the easy transition from high school to CCD through the ASCENT program. I received a lot of support and encouragement and felt confident as I transitioned into the program. The communication was outstanding."

ASCENT Student, 2019-2020

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I be a part time student in ASCENT? What about online classes?

  • ASCENT students are required to enroll in at least 12 college credits during both semesters of their ASCENT year. ASCENT students may not enroll in fewer than 12 college credits per semester unless approved by the DPS ASCENT Manager and Coordinator.
  • DPS does not allow students to take online courses, unless there are extenuating circumstances. This is decided on a case-by-case basis by the ASCENT Manager and Coordinator.
  • Studies have shown that most 1st year students are most successful when they have in person learning and support. Online coursework is highly independent and provides minimal support for students.

Does the ASCENT program pay for textbooks?

  • Yes, and it varies year-to-year based on funding.

How does ASCENT impact a student’s eligibility for DSF Scholarships?

  • If you participate in ASCENT, you are still eligible to apply for DSF scholarships after you complete the ASCENT program.
  • Also, completing ASCENT counts as a year at DPS. Therefore, if you complete your graduation requirements and have only been at DPS for 3 years and then decide to participate in ASCENT, it counts as a 4th year for the purposes of DSF eligibility.

How does ASCENT impact a student’s eligibility for the Pell Grant?

It doesn’t. Because the student has not officially graduated high school, they do not receive federal or state financial aid outside of ASCENT funding.

Can a student who is undocumented, DACA, or ASSET-eligible participate in ASCENT?

  • Yes, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements listed above.

Does a student need to apply for COF (the Colorado Opportunity Fund) to participate in ASCENT?

All students who have taken concurrent enrollment courses in HS have already applied for COF. Students only apply for COF one time.

Can a student with an IEP or 504 participate in ASCENT?

  • Yes, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements listed above.

What post-secondary and scholarship options do students have after completing the ASCENT program?

  • Students may stay at their current college, transfer to another college, or go into the workforce.
  • Scholarships and funding: 
    • Denver Scholarship Foundation
    • Private scholarships
    • College specific scholarships
    • FAFSA or ASSET/CASFA
    • Raise.me

Who can I contact with additional questions?

Please reach out to your school counselor for questions about ASCENT. You can also contact the ASCENT Coordinator or Manager listed below:

  • Alejandra Nevárez, ASCENT Program Coordinator, alejandra_nevarez@dpsk12.org
  • Kelly Gilmore, ASCENT Program Manager, kelly_gilmore@dpsk12.org