“This fall, 270 colleges will welcome students with intellectual disabilities.
Some allow students to live on campus. Most have only a few dozen or fewer students and don’t award degrees, although some offer certificates. Students audit regular university classes, sit with other students, receive support from peer mentors and university advisers, and participate in internships. They also, advocates say, experience college life and the social interaction and maturation that comes with it.
The growth comes thanks to more federal and state funding and a 2008 law that gave students with intellectual disabilities access to postsecondary financial aid. It also stems from research that shows students with such disabilities who attend college are more likely to get jobs than their peers who don’t.
The national employment rate for adults with cognitive disabilities is less than 25 percent, while 61 percent of such students who attended the college programs were employed one year later, according to Think College.
Most of the college programs serve students 18 to 24 and are two years long, though Temple University, which has had a program for 13 years, has expanded to four. Most are aided by college students, who serve as mentors and coaches. Many receive far more applications than they can accommodate.”
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