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A Survey of Postsecondary Education Programs for Students With Intellectual Disabilities in the United States


  • Note: This publication was supported by a grant (CFDA# H133A80042) from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official NIDRR policy.

Correspondence: Meg Grigal, PhD, Institute for Community Inclusion, University of Massachusetts Boston, 100 Morrissey Blvd, Boston, MA 02125, USA. Tel: +1 410-419-4345; Fax: +1 617-287-4352; E-mail:


The authors present findings from a 2009 survey of postsecondary education (PSE) programs for students with an intellectual disability (ID) conducted in the United States. The survey was designed to collect descriptive information on characteristics and practices of existing PSE programs for students with an ID. The survey consisted of 63 items organized into 10 sections including: institution or program characteristics, dual enrollment characteristics, referral and application process, college course access and supports, employment, residential options and campus access, family support, student outcomes, challenges, and program contact information. Some 149 programs in institutions of higher education in 39 states indicated that they served students with ID. PSE program characteristics included basic characteristics, recruitment and admission, course access, campus activities, accommodations, funding, collaboration, employment, and residential services. The results of the survey show that for students with an ID, the college experience differs in a number of important ways from the experiences of their peers without an ID. The high degree of variability among programs responding to the survey suggests that the experiences of students with ID differ from one program to another as well. The authors note that their findings can be used to describe current practice as well as to serve as a baseline of practice that will be important to reference as the field evolves.

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