New law creates tuition assistance for students with intellectual disabilities in college programs
Gov. John Carney today ensured that students with intellectual disabilities will gain greater access to postsecondary education by signing into law a bill creating the Delaware Advance Scholarship Program. It defrays tuition costs for college programs that enable students to hone the skills they need for a successful transition to adult life.
“All Delaware students deserve the opportunity to further their education, compete and be successful,” said Carney. “I was proud to sign this new law, which will help offer that opportunity to more Delaware students with disabilities by lowering the cost of higher education, and help Delaware be more competitive in the long run. Thank you to Rep. Williams and other members of the General Assembly for their partnership, and to the University of Delaware for their advocacy on this important issue.”
Said Rep. Kim Williams, D-Newport, the bill’s primary sponsor: “This new scholarship program will help put students on a sustainable path forward to provide for themselves and achieve economic self-sufficiency. It has been such a rewarding experience hearing from families and advocates about what a difference this scholarship will make in the lives of students with disabilities, and I hope that we continue to improve access to these educational opportunities.”
Delaware students with intellectual disabilities often receive tuition assistance from sources including the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and federal Pell grants. But remaining costs present a challenge for many families, most of whom have faced significant medical and therapy payments throughout their child’s life. The Delaware Advance Scholarship Program will help defray those costs and reward students with intellectual disabilities who choose to pursue college, just as other Delaware students have access to other state scholarships, such as the Student Excellence Equals Degree (SEED) Scholarship.
The Delaware Advance Scholarship Program will be available to students with intellectual disabilities attending any Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Program in Delaware – a federal designation for college programs that promote inclusive experiences. Currently, the only such in-state program is the Career and Life Studies Certificate (CLSC), based at the University of Delaware and administered by the Center for Disabilities Studies. The CLSC curriculum combines classwork, job training, peer mentoring and one-on-one coaching with opportunities to engage in UD’s campus activities. CLSC also offers students the option of living full-time in a residence hall on campus.
“This bill will give kids with intellectual disabilities a simpler way to go to college,” said Zach Simpler, a Cape Henlopen High School student and self-advocate who testified in support of the bill and attended its signing. “I look forward to the experience of being there,” said Simpler, who plans to pursue a degree in video engineering and communications.
“We are immensely grateful that the Legislature, Gov. Carney and Wendy Strauss, executive director of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens, demonstrated their leadership and dedication to educational equity,” said Brian Freedman, associate director of the Center for Disabilities Studies. “Until recently, higher education was not even available to students with intellectual disabilities. Now, thanks to the Delaware Advance Scholarship Program, more students and families than ever can afford to pursue that option.”
This entry was posted in News from CDS and tagged Career and Life Studies Certificate (CLSC), Delaware Advance Scholarship Program, Governor John Carney, Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens, Job training, Rep. Kim Williams, Tuition assistance.