Postsecondary Education

person on laptop with text that says Postsecondary Education learning continues after high school ends

Visit Transition to Adulthood for more resources on the transition process. 

Post-secondary education is an exciting opportunity for all youth, including those with disabilities. Continuing education can mean attending a 4-year university, a 2-year community college, a trade school, or participating in other local education opportunities. It can mean studying full-time or part-time, living at school or commuting from home.

  • Learning and earning go hand-in-hand. The more years of schooling your youth completes, the higher his or her income is likely to be.

Will my child get a diploma or a certificate of completion?

A high school diploma is awarded to students that have met the Michigan Merit Curriculum graduation requirements. A certificate of completion might be given to certain students at the discretion of the local school district. The Michigan Merit law allows a parent to request certain modifications to the state high school graduation requirements.

Are there special education services for an adult with a disability who didn’t complete high school?

Adult learners with disabilities, ages 18 to 26, retain their right to special education if they have not received a regular high school diploma. This includes young adults who are enrolled in adult education, alternative education, and transition programs.

  • FAPE for Adult Learners MDE guidance that establishes the requirements and defines who is responsible for implementing the requirements for adult learners, including to Child Find, Evaluation, Programs and Services, and funding.

What is a Summary of Performance?

When a student with an IEP exits the school system, either by obtaining a diploma or aging out, schools must provide them with a Summary of Performance (SOP) to assist in the process of transitioning to post school activities. The Summary of Performance is a summary of the their academic achievement and functional performance, and includes recommendations on how to assist the student in meeting post-secondary goal. 

What considerations should go into planning a college/career path?

Part of Transition Planning includes planning for a career path. State law requires schools to begin developing an Educational Development Plan (EDP) in Grade 7 and requires that every student has an EDP before high school. EDPs are updated as student interests and abilities become more obvious and focused. The EDP shows educational and career goals, a way to achieve these goals, and the activities accomplished. Data from the EDP can be used to inform transition planning.

Are there college programs in Michigan for students with a disability?

There is no special education or IEP in college as the IEP process only applies to students until high school graduation. Other laws protect the rights of college students and their accommodations, including the ADA and Section 504.

Think College has information on colleges and universities that offer postsecondary education programs for students with intellectual disability. 

What is Project SEARCH?

Project SEARCH is a business-led collaboration that enables young adults with disabilities to gain employment through training and career exploration. It’s a one year high school transition program which provides training and education leading to employment.

What is vocational education?

Vocational training is training for a specific career or trade. A large part of education in vocational schools is hands-on training.

The Michigan Career & Technical Institute (MCTI) in Plainwell is an educational center for adults with disabilities in Michigan. MCTI is supported by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Michigan Rehabilitation Services.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Program through the Michigan Bureau of Services for Blind Persons provides diagnostic evaluations, vocational counseling, and training in skills of blindness at no cost.  Additional services may include low-vision equipment, vocational training, technical school training, a college education, job development and placement, and follow-up.

What are Transition Centers?

Transition Centers and Young Adult Programs are operated by Intermediate School Districts (ISDs) or local schools districts. These transition programs and services are for students up to 26 years old with disabilities who have not received a high school diploma. Contact the ISD to learn more about the specifics in your area.

What is Adult Education?

Adult education provides opportunities for adults to improve education levels, obtain a high school credential, or become better English speakers.

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship programs offer the opportunity to earn money while learning technical skills.  This includes job fields like construction, health care, information technology, transportation, and many others. Apprenticeships can open the door to long-term careers for people with disabilities. 

What other opportunities are out there?

Local school districts may offer community education programs.  Community colleges may offer lifelong learning classes. Libraries and community recreation departments often offer enrichment classes.  There may be other businesses or nonprofits in the community as well.

After IEPs are gone, then what?

There are two main federal disability-rights laws that protect adults with disabilities in postsecondary education settings. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 cover postsecondary education and training, employment, and for independent living.

Support services and academic accommodations at college must be requested by the student. Colleges and universities have an office dedicated to this. These offices are called different things, like Student Support Services, Student Disability Services, like Disability Support Services.

What about paying for college or further education?

There is a range of possible funding sources that can be used to finance higher education costs. There is not a universal answer, funding sources listed work differently across the state. Students with intellectual disabilities are eligible to apply for federal financial aid under certain circumstances.

Students with a high school diploma, certificate of completion, or high school equivalency can apply for the Michigan Achievement Scholarship.

Students who were Medicaid enrolled between age nine and high school graduation may qualify for the Tuition Incentive Program (TIP) .

Great Resources

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