Annual Report on Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities: A Snapshot

Thursday, October 21st, 2015

At M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC we specialize in helping families and individuals with special needs plan and achieve successful, productive, and financially secure futures. We work to accomplish this goal in a number of ways; to begin, we offer a variety of services aimed to help families with special needs to achieve financial goals now and identify strategies to continue to meet financial goals into the future. Secondly, we work with other professionals and special needs advocacy organizations to ensure that our clients have all the guidance and support that they need to realize their dreams. Thirdly, we (together with a group of core, founding families) have created a non-profit Integrated Living Opportunities, an organization that helps families with special needs and individuals with disabilities (self-advocates) build communities through forming community partnerships as well as professional and personal networks of support.

Although (as we have identified) there are many different ways through which we help our clients to realize their goals, there is one common, underlying theme that permeates everything we do: information. In short, our main goal as a special needs services provider is to give you the information that you need in order to make informed, relevant, and ultimately successful short term and long-term decisions about things like education, medical care, insurance, housing and (as relevant to today’s blog) post secondary education.

With that in mind, we would like to present our latest blog – today, we will be taking a look at a report recently released by the Think College National Coordinating Center, the Annual Report on the Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Disabilities. If this topic interests you, then please read on as we provide a brief summary of this report, and a snapshot of the highlights.

What is the Annual Report on Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students With Disabilities?

In order to provide a concise explanation of this report, and its importance, it is necessary to provide some background:

In 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law the Higher Education Opportunity Act, an amendment of 1965’s Higher Education Act. This new law included a number of changes, i.e. new and revised rules and regulations, provisions, etc. If you are interested in learning the specifics of this new law, please click here.

For individuals with disabilities and their families, this is the most important information for you: this new law, among other things, included a number of important new provisions that improve access to postsecondary education for students with disabilities, namely the Transition Postsecondary Education Program for Students with Intellectual Disability Program (TPSID). This program (at a cost of 10.6 million) was designed to act as a model demonstration program aimed at developing inclusive higher education options for people with ID, and provides TPSID grants to 27 institutions to create or expand college programs that focus on academics, social activities, employment experiences, and independent living. These institutions, under the grants, “provide individualized supports for students and opportunities to be involved in college experiences with their peers without disabilities.[i]

The 10.6 million set aside by congress to fund these programs also funds a National Coordinating Center, Think College. This organization, as the author of the report, focuses on year four of the TPSID program and “describes the types of colleges that received TPSID grants, characteristics of attending students, and detailed information about academic access, employment and career development, campus membership, and program elements that supported self-determination, such as person-centered planning,” among other things. Please read on for some of the report’s key findings.

The Findings


In year four of this program, 883 students attended one of 50 TPSID programs (average of 18 per site), across 23 states. Of these 883 students, 438 were newly enrolled and 445 were continuing their studies. 90% of the students were between 18 and 25, and 92% of these students had an intellectual disability and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder.


  • 39% of the 883 students attending these programs in 2014 were employed; this is an increase of 9% from students that attended programs in 2010/2011
  • 40% of students exiting these programs in 2014 did so with paid employment
  • Report noted that the longer the students were enrolled in a program, the more likely they were to become employed; i.e. fore that three quarters of students in their fourth year were working a paid job, internships, or participating in other career development activities.
  • 93% of jobs paid at or above minimum wage.


  • Of all the courses students were enrolled in, 52% of these were academically specialized courses, i.e. designed and delivered to students with ID. The other 42% were academically inclusive, i.e. typical college courses attended by program attendees and other college students.
  • Accommodations were offered, most commonly note-takers and readers. Other accommodations included course substitutions, modified course loads, alternative test formats, etc.
  • 86% of TPSID programs used peer mentors to provide academic supports to students in the programs.

Here at M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC, we think the most important piece of information to come out of this report is this: “Students in the TPSID programs have the opportunity to address both academic and employment goals while in higher education. In the fourth year of this program, 39% of these students were in paid employment while simultaneously accessing college courses. This employment rate is more than double the national employment average for transition-age youth with ID.[ii]

If it wasn’t clear before, it is becoming clearer now: access to educational and employment driven academic supports is the path to inclusive employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. If you would like to learn more about the TPSID program, or read the report in full please visit the Think College! website, or click here.

Would You Like More Information?

From all of us at M&L, thank you for taking the time to drop by our blog today! We hope that we were able to provide you with some valuable information on the TPSID program, or point you in the right direction to access information about post secondary programs fro your family member with special needs.

If you would like more information about post-secondary education opportunities, please visit our blog archive, or contact us! We would love to speak with you regarding your hopes and dreams for your family with special needs. As well, you may wish to check out our Services and Workshops webpages to see exactly what we offer, and learn how we can guide you and your special needs family towards financial success and long-term stability.

Thanks again – don’t forget to drop by next week!


[ii] Found of page 22 of report

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