Introducing Think College

This website introduces inclusive postsecondary education (PSE) for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in Illinois. You will find this website helpful if you are a representative from a postsecondary education institution and/or a student, self-advocate, parent, administrator, service provider, or policy-maker.

Think College is a national initiative to create inclusive PSE opportunities for students with I/DD. It began in 1998 at the University of Massachusetts Boston's (UMASS) Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) and has received numerous federal grants to conduct activities in three areas around inclusive PSE: 1) research; 2) training; and 3) technical assistance.

For a list of inclusive programs in Illinois, refer to the "Illinois Program Profiles" of this website. For additional programs, refer to the national Think College program database.


  • A high school student with Down syndrome just achieved one of his lifelong dreams -- getting accepted to college. It was a moment Noah Van Vooren's parents thought would never happen. And it was all caught on camera and posted as a YouTube video! This video captures Noah's reaction as he read the letter, "It says Dear Noah, yes, you made it. I got accepted!" Noah shouted with his arms stretched in the air. The acceptance letter means Noah will start classes at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisc. this fall. It's part of the school's Cutting Edge program, which offers a college education to students with developmental disabilities.

Think College Illinois
In 2009, Think College, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) funded "Statewide Strategic Planning Grants". These grants were available to any of the 67 AUCD University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) in the United States for fostering interest in and developing programs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in postsecondary edcuation (PSE) settings.

In 2011, the Illinois UCEDD, the Institute on Disability and Human Development (IDHD), at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) received one of the Statewide Strategic Planning Grants. The aim of the Think College Illinois mini-grant was to:

  • Facilitate an on-going awareness and interest amongst policy makers, administrators, educators, parents and students.
  • Create this Think College Illinois website as a blueprint/toolkit for postsecondary education institutions considering inclusive options for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
Model Demos or "TPSIDs"

In 2010 the US Department of Education awarded $10.9 million awarded $10.9 million for 28 "Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities" (TPSID) programs, also called "model demo" grants, for developing programs to support students with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) in postsecondary education (PSE). This included:

  • 27 grants to create programs increasing opportunities for students with I/DD in higher education.
  • 1 grant to create a coordination center to support the 27 TPSIDs, housed at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

The goals of TPSIDs are to:

  • Increase opportunities for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in higher education.
  • Provide individualized supports for inclusive experiences.

Components of the TPSIDs include:

  • Academics and instruction
  • Social activities
  • Employment experiences
  • Work-based learning and internships
  • Independent living

For more information about TPSIDs go to the Think College website.

Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Programs (CTPP)
Federal CTPP designation allows students with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) to participate in federal financial aid programs like:
  • Pell Grant
  • Federal Work-Study (FWS)
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG).
Students with I/DD enrolled in programs with the CTPP designation will spend at least 50% of their time in academic settings with students without I/DD. For guidelines on how to create inclusive programs that will have the best chance of qualifying for federal funding with the CTPP designation, refer to the document, "Think College Standards, Quality Indicators, and Benchmarks for Inclusive Higher Education".
For more information regarding the process of becoming a federally designated program, refer to the document "Title IV Eligibility for an Institution's Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Program for Students with Intellectual/developmental disabilities".
As of fall 2012, there are 14 inclusive programs nationally that have the Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Programs (CTPP)designation. For a complete list of these programs, go to

Picture of a young African American woman with a developmental disability at college.

I've learned some things about myself at college like learning how to be organized. I also learned that to get a successful job you need an education. I've learned more about myself too. I've learned how to be more aware. I learned more about who I am as a person. I've learned how to be an independent and responsible person and I'm also learning to be more focused."-Grace