History of the Cal-SOAP Program

The California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP) was established by the state legislature in 1978. Today, Cal-SOAP is instrumental in improving the flow of information about postsecondary education and financial aid while raising the achievement levels of low-income, elementary and secondary school students or geographic regions with documented low-eligibility or college participation rates, and who are first in their families to attend college.

Today, Cal-SOAP projects operate in fifteen locations throughout the state by consortia made up of secondary and postsecondary schools and community agencies. Cal-SOAP works in cooperation with other intersegmental outreach programs to avoid service duplication.

Current Cal-SOAP projects include: Central Coast (Santa Maria), Central Valley (San Joaquin), East Bay (Oakland and Richmond), Long Beach, Los Angeles, Merced, North Coast (Eureka), Sacramento, San Diego/Imperial, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Barbara, South County Gilroy, South San Joaquin, and Solano.

Because each project specializes in serving students within its community, the types of programs and services may differ. However, the projects share the common goal of improving the flow of information about postsecondary education and financial aid while raising achievement levels of targeted students. Some common services provided by the consortia includes advising, tutoring, parent outreach, and college awareness workshops.

The Cal-SOAP program is administered by the California Student Aid Commission, with individual projects applying each year for continued federal funding. By law, each state allocation must be matched by an equal or higher level of local resources.

The Student Aid Commission is assisted in administration of the program by a 12-member, legislatively mandated advisory committee.

Cal-SOAP has extensive intersegmental participation, including:

  • Ninety-seven public school districts, from the largest in the state to small, rural districts plus individual high schools
  • Nine of the ten general campuses of the University of California system;
  • Eighteen of the twenty-three campuses of the California State University system;
  • Thirty-nine of the state's one hundred and eight community colleges- including all those in each area in which a project is located;
  • Seventeen of the seventy-one Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities members; and;
  • Forty-seven other community-based organizations.
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