Inclusive Postsecondary Education
Inclusive Postsecondary Education is also referred to as Inclusive Higher Education.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 opened doors to a college experience for students with intellectual disabilities. For more information on inclusive higher education across the country, please visit the ThinkCollege! website.
In Florida, there are two related initiatives that support students with intellectual disabilities to gain access to postsecondary education.
Florida Consortium on Inclusive Higher Education (FCIHE)
is a partnership between the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP), Florida International University (FIU) and the Florida State College of Jacksonville (FSCJ). The Consortium was funded in 2015 as a Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) model demonstration site over five (5) years through a federal grant authorized by the HEOA of 2008.
In TPSID programs, students with intellectual disabilities study alongside nondisabled peers on a college campus. Students may take courses, practice social skills and learn employability skills while engaging with others in a college environment. Inclusion with same-age peers, better access to employment opportunities and improving their independent living skills are among the goals of students with intellectual disabilities attending college. Students who earn a standard diploma based on the access curriculum are eligible to apply.
The Florida Consortium on Inclusive Higher Education (FCIHE) is charged with increasing access to and engagement in college coursework and college life culminating in a chosen career path and competitive employment for individuals with an intellectual disability. The FCIHE provides technical assistance and mini-grant funding for program start-up or enhancement. For more information, visit www.FCIHE.com.
The Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities (FCSUA)
The FCSUA, located at the University of Central Florida, was created by the Florida Legislature in 2016. The purpose of the center is to increase independent living, inclusive and experiential postsecondary education and employment opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities. Funding is available to help colleges set up new programs and also for student scholarships to attend these programs.
There are several important distinctions between TPSID and FCSUA funding opportunities. FCSUA policies require the following:
- Students must have exited from the K-12 system to be eligible for FCSUA scholarships.
- Students may exceed the age of 22 and remain eligible for an FCSUA scholarship.
- Postsecondary programs must have Florida Postsecondary Comprehensive Transition Program (FPCTP) status or be in the application process to be eligible to receive grant funding.
- Postsecondary programs must also be accessible to students who have exited the K-12 system.
FCIHE and FCSUA work collaboratively to provide a variety of postsecondary opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities. For more information, visit www.FCSUA.org.