Preparing for College

Early Commitment to College

Early Commitment to College (ECC) became law through Senate Bill 890 introduced in 2008 by then Senator Jack Scott and sponsored by the Campaign for College Opportunity. It enjoyed broad-based bipartisan support and was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger in September 2008.

ECC created a new tool for California school districts with the greatest levels of poverty to voluntarily motivate and support young people in middle school and high school to understand the opportunities available for them to pursue a higher education and access financial aid.

The proposal reflects two shared values – opportunity, by giving students a path to prepare themselves for education after high school and joint responsibility. Through the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education, California established the principle that any student with the interest could pursue a college education in our state. ECC is a way for California to review that historic commitment, and for the first time, make it directly to students and families beginning in middle school.

Save Me a Spot in College Pledge

The legislation created the Save Me a Spot in College Pledge, to be signed by students and a parent or legal guardian. Students agree to:

1) Meet all graduation requirements to finish high school in California.
2) Take challenging coursework, which may include A-G and career tech classes.
3) Seek to achieve proficiency in math and in reading and writing in English.4) Complete a FAFSA and apply for financial aid by March 2nd of their senior year.5) Meet application and other requirements for university admission or enroll directly in community college soon after high school graduation.

In return, the state will provide the following opportunities:

1) A spot in a California Community College for the student to pursue career technical education, pursue a degree, or transfer to a four-year university.
2) A spot in the University of California or California State University provided the student meets the eligibility and admission requirements set by each system.
3) Financial aid for eligible students, as well as support to apply for the CalGrant and federal Pell Grant, which can both be used at a public or private college.

Current Implementation Efforts

The California Department of Education is responsible for the program in collaboration with higher education and financial aid agencies. Currently, ECC is being implemented in 119 school districts statewide, reaching more than 80,000 students statewide.

The Campaign for College Opportunity has produced a tool kit for school districts already implementing Early Commitment to College, or districts interested in doing so. You can download the tool kit here.

Resources for Information About California’s Colleges & Universities

A Degree With A Guarantee:
This website provides information on the new joint transfer program from the California Community Colleges and the California State Universities (CSU) that makes it easier for students to transfer between the two school systems. Under the program, community college students who complete a new AA-T or AS-T will be guaranteed admission to the CSU system. Check out the degree options to find one that’s right for you.

California Colleges:
This is a resourceful, open-ended site that makes finding and applying to a school in California a snap. You can read about and compare California Community Colleges, CSUs, UCs, and Private/Independent Colleges to help you determine what’s best for you. You’ll also find great information about financial aid and paying for college.

California Student Aid Commission:
The California Student Aid Commission is the state agency responsible for administering financial aid programs for students attending public and private universities, colleges, and vocational schools in California. This site offers information on Cal Grants, the California Dream Act application and the Middle Class Scholarship.

This site is helpful for planning for college for both middle and high school students, including information on what classes and tests to take, how to find the college that’s right for you, and the application process. You can also get advice about planning for college from KnowHow2Go Ambassadors featured on the website.

California Community Colleges:
The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office provides information about the community college system and links to all 112 community colleges.

California State University (CSU):
‘CSU Mentor’ is an online resource designed to help students and their families learn about the CSU system, select a CSU campus to attend, plan to finance higher education, and apply for admission.

University of California (UC):
‘Pathways’ is the University of California’s online undergraduate and transfer admission information and application network.

Real Cost of College Student Tools:
This site, created by the Campaign, allows students to estimate how long and how much it will cost them to graduate from college. The interactive tools allow students to see the relationship between time and costs of a college education.

Association of Independent California Colleges & Universities (AICCU):
This site offers information about the AICCU, which serves as the unified statewide voice of independent higher education in California. Each of the 78 private colleges and universities they represent are profiled with a link to their respective websites.

Download a list of additional resources (in English and Spanish) here.