Postsecondary Education: Opportunities for
Students with Disabilities
Sean Roy – PACER
Missouri APSE Employment Summit
Questions we hope to answer:
• Why is postsecondary education an important option?
• How do expectations in college differ from those in high
• How can students use academic accommodations to be
successful in college?
• What are the postsecondary education opportunities for
students with intellectual disabilities?
The Benefits of Postsecondary
Increased employment and lifetime earnings
Many new jobs require postsecondary education
Increased social circles and networks
Seen by many as what youth of that age do
Other benefits?
Types of Postsecondary
• Four-year Colleges and
• Liberal Arts College
• Community College or
Junior College
• Engineering or Tech College
• Technical School or
Vocational School
• Military School
• Business School
• Online schools
Benefits of a Two-year
Many students find great benefit in starting at a
two-year college
•Stepping stone to four-year program
•Class sizes often capped at 25/30
•Better chance of individual attention
•Before you commit, always tour the school
and meet with DSS staff to ensure a good fit
Academics: Postsecondary
Differs from High School
• Higher instructor-to-student ratio
• Less contact with instructors
• Expectations to achieve independently
• High level of academic competence expected
• Fewer tests cover broader base of
• No resource rooms
Adapted from “Going to College: Expanding Opportunities for People with Disabilities” (2005)
Questions for Students to
Can you read up to 200 pages in a week?
Do you have a system for taking notes?
Do you know which academic tasks give you
Do you have a strategy for completing tasks
you find boring?
Do you have an academic subject you find
Source: Landmark College’s Guide to Assessing College Readiness
Schedule Differences
IEPs Do Not Go To College
• Students who have IEPs in high school
should not expect the same level of services
in college
• Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the
Americans with Disabilities Act become
applicable laws
• IEPs can be used (in some cases) for
disability documentation and to help identify
academic accommodations
Disability Student Services
• Most postsecondary schools have a point person
for students with disabilities
• A school does not need to have a “program,”
just a point person
• DSS staff can help identify and negotiate
academic accommodations
• Quality and depth of services can vary greatly
from school to school, so meet with DSS person
before you commit
• DSS offices not a “single point of contact”.
Appropriate Disability
•Each college establishes its own criteria
•May need HS records, letters from
professionals, etc.
•Some colleges may require additional
•Talk early in the process with the
Disability Student Services provider to learn
the requirements
Academic Accommodations in
• Colleges need only provide “equal access to
• Accommodations ensure access not success
• Accommodations should be at no-cost to
• “Personal services” are the responsibility of
the individual, not the college
• Colleges have the final say on what
accommodations can be used
Accommodation Examples
Common Accommodations
Not Accommodations
Extra time for tests
Quiet space for test taking
Use of assistive technology
Tape-recording classes
Oral tests instead of written
Test reader
Assistance with note taking
Sign language interpreters
Modified curriculum
Personal Care Assistants
Extra time to complete
• Transportation
• Equipment such as laptops,
software, scooter, hearing aids,
PSE for Students with
Intellectual Disabilities
Think College
What are the options in the US?
• Over 200 Programs listed on the Think College
website (www.thinkcollege.net)
• 34 Comprehensive Transition Programs (CTPs)
• 27 Transition Postsecondary Program for
Students with Intellectual Disabilties (TPSIDs)
Programs Can Differ
• Length
• Level of Inclusion
• Residential Options
• Focus of Program
• Size
• Student Age
Pathways to College
Types of Postsecondary
Education Experiences
 K-12/Special Education Options
 Dual enrollment program for students with ID or
ASD, age18-21, who are still in high school but
receive transition services in college
 Postschool-Higher Education Options
 Postsecondary education program designed to
support adults with ID or ASD in college
 Individualized access to existing college options
Levels of College Course Access
 Full access to course
 Partial or limited access
 No access – all specially
designed courses only for
students with disabilities
Paid Employment
 Youth who participated in PSE were
26% more likely to leave Vocational
Rehabilitation with paid employment
 Earned a 73% higher weekly income
 Individuals need greater access to
PSE supported by Vocational
Data Set: RSA 911
Migliore, A., Butterworth, J., & Hart, D. 2009. Postsecondary Education
and Employment Outcomes for Youth with Intellectual Disabilities.
Fast Facts Series, No. 1. Boston, MA: Institute for Community
Predictors of Employment Students with
 The only post-high school transition goal
that was a predictor of employment for
students with ID was having the goal of
attending college
-Grigal, Hart, & Migliore, 2011
How Does it Get Paid For?
• Students with ID pay tuition like everyone
• No federal student loans for non-degree
• CTP students can get financial aid
• Unclear if 529 savings programs can be
used for non-degree programs
Tips for Parents:
• Collaborate with high school team and
youth to develop action plan
• Connect with adult services partners
• Practice self-advocacy
• Learn about differences between high
school and college
• Talk about boundaries
• Plan how you will communicate
Talk About Money $$
• Develop a financial plan for college: for
tuition, spending money, housing costs
• Practice budgeting at home early and often
• Talk about the difference between musts and
• Find someone to help with budgeting at
college to help bridge the gap from home to
Advocating for New
It is often from the energy of parents that
new programs get created.
• Find your champions
• Raise awareness
• Speak to legislators and higher education
• You might have to start small
Contact info
Sean Roy
[email protected]

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