ASCENT Program

ASCENT - Accelerating Students through Concurrent Enrollment

Get a year or more of college paid for!

ASCENT is a program that pays Front Range Community College tuition for students to take a year of college courses after their senior year. If a student plans appropriately, they could complete that 5th year of High School with as much as two years of college completed and paid for.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ASCENT?

In May 2009, the Colorado State Legislature passed House Bill 09-1319 and Senate Bill 09-285, the Concurrent Enrollment Programs Act. The collective intent is to broaden access to and improve the quality of concurrent enrollment programs, improve coordination between institutions of secondary education and institutions of higher education, and ensure financial transparency and accountability. 

This legislation also created the ASCENT program. 

ASCENT stands for Accelerating Students through Concurrent Enrollment. It is a “5th Year Program” that allows seniors to remain enrolled at the high school and take a fifth year consisting entirely of college classes, if they have met all of their high school graduation requirements and have taken 12 credit hours of college-level courses prior to the end of their senior year. 

How would ASCENT benefit students?

By participating in this program, a student will get to take college classes while Boulder Valley School District pays their college tuition (see below for tuition details). With advance planning, it is possible for students to finish the ASCENT Program having completed an Associate’s Degree. 

How do students qualify for the program?

Students must: 

  • Remain enrolled at the high school for a fifth year (they do not attend classes at the high school) 

  • Be under the age of 21. 

  • Have a GPA of at least 2.0. 

  • Be on track to meet all high school graduation requirements by the end of their senior (4th) year.

  • Have completed, or be on track to complete at least 12 credit hours of college coursework prior to the completion of the 12th grade year.  Concurrent Enrollment classes count. AP and IB classes do not count as they are high school classes, but if a student is enrolled in a college class while in high school, the college in which they are enrolled may transcript AP/IB courses.  Please talk to the college’s concurrent enrollment liaison for more details. 
  • Not be in need of basic skills or remedial course work as defined by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education’s (CCHE) remedial education policy. 

  • Have satisfied the minimum prerequisites for the college courses before enrollment in the course, including having the required ACT, SAT, or Accuplacer scores.  Students are responsible for providing ACT/SAT/ACCUPLACER scores to their counselor for verification. 

  • Complete an Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP) with high school counselor. 

  • Apply to and be accepted into the Colorado postsecondary institution where they plan to take college classes. 

  • Have not participated in the ASCENT program in previous years.

Should all qualified students participate in ASCENT?

No. The following students should not participate: 

  • Students who want to attend college out of state their freshman year. 

  • Students who want to play inter-collegiate sports (NCAA) their freshman year. 

  • Students who will require federal financial aid (federal student loans, federal grants) to cover expenses not covered by ASCENT.  For example, some students may benefit from accepting a federal Pell Grant rather than participate in ASCENT, as Pell Grants generally cover an entire year’s expense at local community colleges or more than ASCENT at a four year college. 

How much college tuition will Boulder Valley School District pay?

Boulder Valley School District will pay tuition at the local community college tuition rate. If a student attends a school other than a community college, they will only be eligible for the amount of tuition at the local community college tuition rate. The payment of any tuition charged above the community college rate would be the responsibility of the student.  Students are also responsible for payment of fees and books. 

Do students have to reimburse Boulder Valley School District for the cost of tuition?

Students who pass their classes with a grade of “C” or better do not reimburse Boulder Valley School District for the amount of tuition paid. However, students who drop a course after the college drop deadline or receive a failing grade (“D” or “F”) will be required to reimburse the district for the amount of tuition paid.

Will Boulder Valley School District pay for student’s room, board, books, supplies, and fees at the college?

No. BVSD will only pay for tuition (at the community college rate). Students will be responsible for paying all other expenses.

Does participating in this program impact the amount of financial aid a student may receive?

Yes. Students are not eligible for any federal student financial aid including federal student loans and grants while participating in ASCENT. Students will qualify for federal aid after they have completed or dropped the program.  Students may disqualify themselves from certain scholarships or grants since 12 semester hours or more earned in college may cause the student to be classified as a transfer student rather than a freshman. It is important for families to weigh all of their financial options before committing to the ASCENT program.  Please be sure to consult with your high school counselor for help with this important decision.

If students stay enrolled at the high school for a 5th year, when will they be considered a high school graduate?

Until students complete the 5th year ASCENT program, they will still be classified as a high school student. High school transcripts will show high school graduation requirements have been met and the student is considered enrolled in ASCENT for a 5th year. Once students complete or stop participating in the ASCENT program, they will receive their high school diploma and be classified as a high school graduate.

Will students be able to participate in a high school graduation?

Yes! Students will still participate in the graduation ceremony with their high school class. Students will receive a certificate stating that they are an ASCENT student for the 2019-2020 school years. At the completion of the ASCENT year, they will receive a high school diploma.

Where can students take college classes?

Students can take classes at any two-year or four-year Colorado school that has an ASCENT agreement in place with Boulder Valley School District. Currently, BVSD has an agreement with Front Range Community College. If students are interested in attending a different institution, they should consult with Margaret Crespo, to inquire whether other agreements can be put into place.

Is there a limit to the number of credits a student can take?

If a student is taking classes during the 5th year through ASCENT, there is no limit to the maximum number of credit hours a student can take unless otherwise restricted per a college’s maximum credit policy. However, Boulder Valley School District will require a minimum number of 12 credit hours each semester to participate in ASCENT if student has requested and was granted full time status.  Part time status requires a minimum of 3 credit hours and no more than 11 credit hours per semester.

Are students required to participate for the entire school year?

No. BVSD encourages students to take advantage of the financial support for the full year, but a student can stop participating any time. If a student drops a class after the final drop deadline or receives a failing grade (“D” or “F”), they will have to reimburse BVSD for the cost of tuition.

Which college classes can a student take?

Students may only enroll in Guarantee Transfer courses (see your counselor for a list of approved courses) and/or courses that apply to a specific career pathway as indicated in the student’s Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP). The courses must apply toward a college degree or certificate.

Can a student participate in college activities and athletics?

Students may participate in college activities and club sports, but are not eligible to participate in intercollegiate athletics. Students who plan to play NCAA athletics should not participate in ASCENT.

Can a student live in the dorms?

Nothing prevents a student from staying in the dorms while taking college classes through ASCENT. However, the cost of room and board is not covered through the ASCENT program. Students will be responsible for covering these expenses.

Will Boulder Valley School District provide transportation to the college?

No, a student will be responsible for providing their own transportation.

What else does a student need to know?

  • Students may only participate in the ASCENT program for one academic year. 

  • Online classes and summer classes are not covered under the ASCENT program. 

  • Students will have to apply for and use the Colorado Opportunity Fund (COF). 

  • The grades a student receives in the college classes will appear on both their high school transcript and college transcript. 

  • Undocumented students can participate in ASCENT.

When do students have to decide and commit to the program?

Students will need to make a final commitment to the program in February of their senior year. 

What do students need to do now?

If students are interested in the program, they need to see their high school counselor right away for more information.  Counselors will work with students to determine if the ASCENT Program is right for them.

Timeline

When

Item      

9th- 11th Grade

Determine if ASCENT is appropriate for your academic plan

  • Review FAQs above

  • Discuss option with parents/guardians

  • Discuss option with counselor

  • Update your ICAP every semester

9th-12th Grade Earn a minimum of 12 college credits with a grade of C or better (AP/IB test scores do not apply unless they have been accepted by a college)
October of 12th grade Apply for FAFSA
Ongoing Research College Scholarship opportunities
December of 12th grade Submit ASCENT Letter of Intent to Counselor
January of 12th grade Apply to Front Range Community College (includes signing up for COF)
February of 12th grade Complete and submit BVSD ASCENT Letter of Interest, Checklist, Agreement Form (English / Spanish), and High School and College Transcripts
May of 12th grade Walk with your graduation class
End of May ASCENT notifications determined
June 30 Confirm you will participate in the ASCENT program