This page of the Postsecondary Options section provides information and resources for school professionals, students and families regarding college and university options and opportunities for students with disabilities. College includes two-and four-year institutions awarding associate, bachelor and/or graduate degrees as well as some technical certifications.
There are 12 public universities in Florida that offer four-year bachelor-level degrees, as well as graduate and professional degrees. Admission into Florida’s public universities is competitive. Prospective students should complete a rigorous curriculum in high school and apply to more than one university to increase their chance for acceptance. To qualify to enter one of Florida’s public universities, a first-time-in-college student must meet the following minimum requirements:
- High school graduation with a standard diploma
- Admission test scores
- 16 Credits of approved college preparatory academic courses
- 4 English (3 with substantial writing)
- 4 Mathematics (Algebra I level and above)
- 3 Natural Science (2 with substantial lab)
- 3 Social Science
- 2 World Language (sequential, in the same language)
- 2 Approved electives
Colleges and universities may be two-year, four-year, public, private, or for-profit educational institutions offering programs leading to a degree or other recognized education credential. In the Florida college system, students may also earn career certificates.
There are a number of excellent resources that can guide students through the college selection and application process, beginning with the Florida Shines which contains a number of resources for college and career planning including information.
Disability Services at Colleges and Universities
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which requires public schools to create an IEP and provide services to students with disabilities, does not apply after a student graduates from high school. Adults, including college students, fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Students with disabilities who plan to attend college must self-identify as a person with a disability and be prepared to take an active role in determining what accommodations are needed to help them be successful. The Summary of Performance, a document that must be provided to students with disabilities when they leave high school, could be a starting point, but colleges will require additional documents and each college may ask for different items. Many colleges require a recent evaluation. To make sure accommodations are in place before classes start, students should contact the disability services office at the technical center, college or university they want to attend as far in advance as possible. Find contact information for disability services providers on the FDOE's Educational Contacts page.
A growing number of postsecondary education providers, including colleges and universities, are providing on-campus programs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 encourages comprehensive and inclusive model programs serving students with intellectual disabilities. “Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities” are defined as “degree, certificate, or nondegree programs…offered by an institution of higher education…to support students with intellectual disabilities who are seeking to continue academic, career and technical and independent living instruction at an institution of higher education in order to prepare for gainful employment” (Public Law 110-315, Section 760(1)). Students enrolled in these programs may be eligible for federal financial aid.
Florida is currently engaged in expanding opportunities authorized by the HEOA, including model comprehensive transition and postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities.
Inclusive Higher Education Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID)
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, please 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, please visit www.FCSUA.org.
Project 10 - Disability Support Services Resources for Florida Colleges and Universities
Click on the county in which the college or university is located and then the "College/University Resources" link. Contact information is provided for the Disability Support Services office/staff who can assist students with disabilities who are applying to the college or university as well as provide referrals to admissions office staff and other resources.
Florida Department of Education, Florida Colleges List
Florida's colleges remain the primary point of access to higher education in Florida, with 65 percent of the state's high school graduates pursuing postsecondary education beginning at a Florida college and 82 percent of freshman and sophomore minority students in public higher education attending one of Florida's 28 colleges.
State University System of Florida, University List
This webpage from the Florida Board of Governors lists the universities within the state university system of Florida, including links to each university's website.
Inclusive Postsecondary Education Programs
Postsecondary transition sites serve students with intellectual disabilities on Florida college and university campuses by providing age-appropriate opportunities for learning, employment preparation, recreational and leisure activities, social interactions and developing natural supports. Information on existing sites is available on the Florida Consortium on Inclusive Higher Education's website.
Florida Shines is a service of the State University System of Florida and the Florida College System that helps students find and register for distance learning, plan a career and much more.
Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) - Student & Parent Resources
Provides Frequently Asked Questions for students with disabilities and their parents as well as “Transition Resources A - Z”
Going To College
Designed to help high school students with disabilities prepare for college by providing a safe place to learn about themselves, what to expect in college, advocating for themselves and selecting a college that is a good match for their interests and needs. Each section is introduced by videos of college students who describe their college experiences. Resources include a student portfolio and information for parents and educators, including “teacher toolbox” activities for use in the classroom
Preparing for Postsecondary Education
Provides an overview of self-advocacy, rights, responsibilities and other issues students with disabilities need to consider when exploring postsecondary education
Supporting Accommodation Requests: Guidance on Documentation Practices
This April 2012 document from the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) presents a conceptual framework for using disability documentation to make informed decisions in a postsecondary setting.
Think College! College Options for People with Intellectual Disabilities
Generates and shares knowledge, guides institutional change, informs public policy and engages with students, professionals and families in order to develop, expand and improve inclusive higher education options for people with intellectual disability
Think College! LEARN
Provides self-paced modules using multimedia tools such as videos, publications, interactive learning activities and podcasts to share information on topics related to postsecondary education for students with intellectual disabilities