The California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP) is a statewide program designed to increase the number of students seeking higher education. Cal-SOAP provides financial/academic information and support for students and their families to ensure their educational success, especially those who are recognized as being from limited income families, first generation college students or from areas/schools with low eligibility or college participation rates.
Cal-SOAP improves the flow of information on postsecondary education, financial aid and raises achievement levels of students through collegiate academies established on high school campuses.
- Schools We Serve
- Research Careers
- Research Colleges
- Selecting a College
- Types of Schools
- Paying for College
- Financial Aid & Scholarships
- Applying for College
Atwater High School
2201 Fruitland Ave., Atwater, CA 95301
Buhach Colony High School
1800 Buhach Rd., Atwater, CA 95301
Chowchilla High School
805 Humboldt Ave., Chowchilla, CA 93610
Dos Palos High School
1701 E. Blossom St., Dos Palos, Ca. 93620
El Capitan High School
100 Farmland, Merced, Ca. 95340
Golden Valley High School
2121 E. Childs Ave., Merced, CA 95341
Livingston High School
1617 Main St., Livingston, CA 95334
Los Banos High School
1966 S. 11th St., Los Banos, CA 93635
Le Grand High School
12961 E, Le Grand Rd, Le Grand, Ca. 9533
Hilmar High School
7807 Lander Ave, Hilmar, CA 95324
Merced High School
205 West Olive Ave., Merced, CA 95344
Pacheco High School
200 N. Ward Rd., Los Banos, CA 93635
Come Back Charter
350 W. Yosemite Avenue, Merced, CA 95348
Valley Community Schools
1850 Wardrobe Ave., Merced, CA 95340
1800 Matthews Ave., Atwater, CA 95301
LOS BANOS CAMPUS
West H St., Los Banos, CA 93635
Curious about careers? These resources will provide you with a wealth of career information, from education requirements to average pay to typical work environment!
- Contains vital information for different occupations, as well as future projections of job availability, security, and more!
- Students, parents, and career advisors can explore career and education options. Sponsored by the US Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
- Practical help to find, choose and make the most of college internships.
- Choose Your Career Path & Fund Your Future. This site is where you get to discover your interests and passions, explore training and college pathways, and fund your education and training.
- This site contains information about how the workplace operates, how to evaluate and compare job offers, how to negotiate a higher salary, and how to ultimately accept or decline a position.
- Find your career. Find your future.
- Can't decide on a career? Why not start your own? Get information about starting and managing your own small business!
- Using Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts for 7,000 titles, MONEY and compensation experts PayScale.com identified jobs requiring a bachelor's degree that have strong growth prospects, and eliminated any with fewer than 10,000 positions nationwide, plus those requiring advanced degrees that take more than three years.
There are many ways to find out about colleges before making a choice.
Talk to your child's high school counselor. The counselor can help your child focus on his or her needs and goals, and provide information about the different types of schools that would meet those needs. The counselor can also help your child obtain and prepare college applications.
Visit a variety of schools. Schedule visits when classes are in session so you and your child get a real feel for how the school operates. Make sure you are both comfortable with the facilities, the equipment, the teachers and the students.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Be sure to ask about graduation rates, employment rates for graduates, and the type of job placement services available for students and graduates.
Use the college admissions office to check the cost. Get a complete statement of tuition and fees. Any federal financial aid you receive will be applied first to tuition and fees. If there is money left over, you may be able to use it for additional expenses such as food and housing.
Make the Right Choice
When choosing a college, consider the following:
- In-state or out-of-state. In-state tuition is less than out-of-state. Check to see if any colleges in your state offer the degree, activities and other criteria you and your child have identified.
- Public or private Public schools are generally less restrictive and less expensive then private schools. Publicly funded state schools are more accessible than private schools. Private schools, however, may offer smaller classes and more personalized education.
- School size and class sizes. At large universities, classes may range from 25 to 500 students. At small colleges, classes usually range from five to 100 students.
- Student activities. Do the colleges and universities your child is considering offer activities in which he or she would like to be involved?
- Location. A college or university's location (rural area, small town or city) affects housing, transportation and access to off-campus activities.
- Atmosphere and physical surroundings. A school's atmosphere is created by the interests and attitudes of the students, as well as the physical environment. A school may be politically vibrant, or may center on school spirit, tradition and athletics. Or it may have a very professional atmosphere. You and your child should consider the atmosphere that suits him or her best.
- Housing options. Does your child need on-campus housing? Is it available? If your child wishes to live off-campus, is there accessible, safe transportation to the campus?
Which school is right for me? If you find yourself asking this question, as many have, it is important to research the many different options. When researching the different kinds of colleges out there, you're likely to come across a number of different schools, each offering different programs, focuses, or career choices.
In California, there are five main institution types:
- Vocational schools focus on direct job training, teaching you the skills necessary to perform well in a skilled occupation. Typically award certifications in limited areas of expertise.
- Community colleges (CC) are publicly supported and locally oriented colleges that offer programs for transfer to a four-year college, career education programs, remedial or "catch-up" programs, and continuing education for cultural growth, life enrichment, and skills improvement.
- California State Universities (CSU) are a high quality, accessible, student-focused education. With 23 campuses in California, it is one of the most affordable educational systems. Teaching is it's primary focus.
- University of California (UC) schools are high quality research based, theoretical institutions. With 10 campuses in California, research is the primary focus.
- Private universities range in teaching styles, focus, and quality.
Every college hopeful must inevitably face the dreaded question: How am I going to pay for my education? Thankfully, there are many ways for students to get assistance with paying for college. Financial aid is key to understanding how your family, your school, and your government can play an important role in a successful college experience.
There are three types of financial aid:
- Gift Aid: grants or scholarships that do NOT need to be repaid. Examples are Cal Grants and Federal Pell Grants.
- Work-Study: Money earned by the student as payment for a job on or off campus.
- Loans: Borrowed money to be paid back, usually with interest. Federal loans can be either subsidized or unsubsidized.
Financial aid can come from different sources. These include the federal government, the state government, the college/university that you will be attending, private companies or foundation, and parents' employers.
The Cal Grant is a California-specific financial aid allocation that does not need to be paid back. Cal Grant applicants must apply using the FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application by the deadline and meet all eligibility, financial, and minimum GPA requirements of either program. Grants are for students attending Universities of California, California State Universities or California Community Colleges, or qualifying independent and career colleges or technical schools in California.
There are three kinds of Cal Grants — A, B and C — but you don’t have to figure out which one to apply for. Your eligibility will be based on your FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application responses, your verified Cal Grant GPA, the type of California colleges you list on your application and whether you’re a recent high school graduate.
For more information click here
About California Chafee Grant
The California Chafee Grant program provides up to $5,000 annually to current and former foster youth for college or vocational training at any accredited college in the U.S. based on available funding. To be eligible, foster youth must have been in California foster care on their 16th birthday and not have reached their 22nd birthday before July 1 of the year of application. Foster youth are encouraged to apply during their senior year of high school. To apply, the foster youth must complete their FAFSA and the California Chafee Grant program application. For more information, visit http://www.chafee.csac.ca.gov.
Other application forms that may be required by your college are the CSS/Financial Aid Profile, Institutional Scholarship and/or Financial Aid application, and federal tax returns (along with all schedules and W-2s) or other income documentation.
One of the most important questions when considering higher education is "How can I pay for college?" Follow these links to learn more about financial aid, aka FREE MONEY*!
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
"Federal Student Aid, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation. At the office of Federal Student Aid, our 1,200 employees help make college education possible for every dedicated mind by providing more than $150 billion in federal grants, loans, and work-study funds each year to more than 15 million students paying for college or career school. We are proud to sponsor millions of American minds pursuing their educational dreams."
- California Dream Act application (CADAA)
The CA Dream Act Application allows undocumented students interested in attending eligible California colleges, Universities, and career education programs to apply for state financial aid. There are many financial aid opportunities for undocumented/dreamer students including: Cal Grant, Chafee Grant, Middle Class Scholarship, UC Grants, State University Grants, California College Promise Grant (CCPG), EOP/EOPS, some University scholarships and some private scholarships administered by campuses.
- FastWeb Scholarship Search
FastWeb.com is a great site to begin looking for scholarships to help fund your education. Requirements and qualifications vary, so search now to see which scholarships are available for you!
Before you can attend the college of your dreams, you must first get through the college application process. Applying may seem daunting, but these helpful sites will provide you with a working knowledge of application processes for a mulitude of schools, as well as excellent tips for making your application stand out!
- From dealing with admissions, the college wait list, and other milestones, this site contains the tips and tools that can help you throughout the process of applying to college.
- With over 100 colleges throughout the state, the California Community College system is a great way to earn a degree. Follow this link to find out more information.
- The CSU system is comprised of 23 excellent campuses. Students interested in applying for CSU admission can get started here.
- Long heralded as some of the best and most competitive schools in the nation, the UC system offers a wide range of opportunities in many fields of study. Access all of the UC application information here.
Established by the California state legislature in 1978, the prevailing mission of the California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP) is to educate, empower, and encourage students and their families to access all opportunities to higher education. Our vision encompasses a strong collaborative effort between elementary schools, high schools, colleges, and universities to ensure that students succeed personally, as well as academically.
Today, Cal-SOAP is instrumental in promoting information about postsecondary education and financial aid, while raising the achievement levels of elementary and secondary school students, especially those who are recognized first-generation college students, from low-income families, or testare from geographic regions with documented low-college participation rates.
Cal-SOAP projects operate in seventeen locations throughout the state by consortia made up of secondary and postsecondary schools and community agencies, including:
- Ninety-seven public school districts & fifty-one individual high schools;
- Nine of the UC campuses;
- Eighteen of the CSU campuses;
- Thirty-nine of the state's community colleges;
- Seventeen of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities members;
- and forty-seven other community-based organizations.
Because each project specializes in serving students within its community, the type of programs and services may differ. However, the projects share the common goal of helping thousands learn about local, state, and federal college aid programs. Common services provided include advising, tutoring, parent outreach, and college awareness workshops.
Other Cal-SOAP projects include: Central Coast (Santa Maria), Central Valley (West Fresno County), East Bay (Oakland and Richmond), Greater Long Beach Region, Los Angeles, North Coast (Eureka), North Valley (Yuba), Sacramento College Horizons, San Diego/Imperial, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Barbara, South Coast (Whittier), South County Gilroy, South San Joaquin, and SUCCESS (Solano).
Cal-SOAP Merced works to accomplish its goals by providing the following academic and advisement services with students and parents:
- Personal statements
- Four systems of education
- College applications
- Financial aid & loan counseling
- Transferring from a 2-year school to a 4-year school
- Potential careers
In addition, students have the opportunity to participate in many local events held throughout the school year and summer sessions, designed to increase awareness about the many aspects of seeking higher education.