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Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy (ELSA)

Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy (ELSA)
Elmhurst University
Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy (ELSA)
190 Prospect Avenue
Elmhurst, IL 60126
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Program Contact Tim Ahlberg
Phone 630.617.3752

A four-year program, ELSA provides a full-time, post-secondary educational experience to young adults with differing abilities. The program emphasizes three key areas: academics, work experience and social and recreational experience. Students have an inclusive college experience at Elmhurst College that includes joining clubs and organizatons, living on campus, and opportunities to explore some college level course work.

Public or private: Private
Type of school: 4-year college or university
Is this program a federally funded TPSID program? No
Students in this program: Have graduated or exited from high school
Number of students: 50
Deadline to apply to this program: ELSA encourages applicants interested in living on campus to have complete applications in by December of the year prior to enrolling. Students who do not plan to live on campus are accepted through June 1.
Requirements for admission to this program:
  • Other diploma (e.g., IEP diploma, certificate of attendance)
  • 18 - 28
  • Students interested in living on campus must be their own legal guardian.

Accepts out-of-state students?: Yes
Please indicate which disabilities students in this program have:
  • Intellectual disability
  • Autism
Program length: 4 years
Acceptance, Retention, and Completion Rates
Percent of students applying who are admitted: 43%
Retention rate: 100%
Cost of the program:

Full-time tuition for ELSA during the 2019–2020 academic year is $17,412 per semester. Part-time tuition is based on an hourly rate of $914 per credit hour. Tuition includes all books and required instructional materials. Visit online for up-to-date costs:

Additional costs: $15.00

Students who live on campus are required to have an individual life coach which families pay $15 per hour. Number of hours can vary by student depending on needs but typically average between 3 to 5 hours per week.

Is this program able to provide federal financial aid as a Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP)? Yes
Students pay for the program in the following ways:
  • Private pay (student and family)
  • Scholarships
  • Federal Financial Aid
  • Grant Funding
Scholarships available:

Students who have successfully completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year are eligible for a need-based grant. Only students who complete the FAFSA will be considered for this award. Elmhurst University grants range in value from $500 to $13,000 and are awarded by the Office of Student Financial Services after admission to the ELSA program. Consideration for the Elmhurst University Need-Based Grant is based on the submission of the FAFSA each year and the student remaining in good academic standing in the ELSA program. 

Students take these types of "typical" courses (with students who don't have disabilities):
  • Typical college courses for credit
  • Typical college courses for audit
More about course access:

<p>ELSA students can participate in Elmhurst University courses as electives as a pass/no pass class. Students participate in these courses to the best of their ability though some modifications can be made and these courses are not for college credit. Utilizing these elective courses ELSA students can pursue a certificate of specialized study and take four supported college courses in a specific subject area. Past students have completed certificates of specialized study in journalism, business, graphic arts, education and more. Students with strong academic skills may consider enrolling in the ELSA+ program, taking Elmhurst University courses for credit. These courses can be transferred towards a degree program or to another college later if desired.</p>

Students take courses that are only for students in this program: Yes
Information on special classes:

Following the academic calendar of Elmhurst University, the Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy offers a 16-week Fall Term, a four-week January Term, a 16-week Spring Term, and a six or eight-week summer term.

To earn the ELSA Certificate, students must complete a total of 128 semester hours of coursework (52 hours of required courses and 76 hours of individual choice/elective courses).

Sample list of Courses:
Introduction to College Life
Reading and Writing Strategies
Self Determination
Career By Design
Healthy Living
Community and Citizenship

Time spent only with other students in this program: Between half the time and 75% of the time
Credential(s) students earn upon completing the program: ELSA Certificate of Completionn
The credential(s) is/are:
  • Awarded by program, not officially recognized by Institute of Higher Education
  • Just for students in this program
Percent of students in this program have paid work while attending the program: 70%
Other career development activities are:
  • Internships
  • Volunteer work
  • Community Service
  • Work Study
Percent of students in this program that had paid work after exiting the program: 90%
Housing is provided to students: Yes
Housing options available:
  • Inclusive on campus
  • Inclusive off campus
Students participate in student organizations on campus: Yes
Proportion of time spent only with other students in this program: 25%
Students have participated in these social/extracurricular activities and organizations:

ELSA students have participated in a number of Elmhurst University clubs and organizations including; Cheerleading, Relay for Life, Best Buddies, TaeKwanDo Club, Special Olympics, various choirs, bands, involvement with Elmhurst Theater and Elmhurst Unviersity radio. Beginning in 2018 ELSA students have participated in Elmhurst Unviersity athletics including; cross country, golf, track and field and football.

Last updated: Monday, July 20, 2020 - 11:25