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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, Admission Director
Program Contact Email
Phone (630)617-3309
Website Program website

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 University that includes joining clubs and organizations, living on campus, and opportunities to explore some college level course work. Our students continue to grow as individuals and build skills for lifelong-learning opportunities, with the goal to work productively and live as independently as possible.

Program information submitted: January 19, 2023

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
Program serves students who have left high school? Yes, all of our students have left high school
Regular high school diploma required? No, an IEP/non-standard diploma/certificate of attendance is accepted
Deadline to apply to this program: Generally January 15 each year, but accept on a rolling basis until full
Criteria for admission
  • Age range: 18 - 28 to begin the program
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
Acceptance rate for the most recent fall term: 80.00%
Retention rate for first year students from the previous academic year to the current one: 95.00%
Average student tuition and fees for the current school year: $37444.00
Average out-of-state tuition, current year: $37444.00
Room and board: $11658.00
Additional costs: $15.00

Students who live on campus are required to have a life coach. Parents will pay this life coach $15 per hour 3 - 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
Scholarships available:

Elmhurst University offers a number of grants to qualified students. Details on current grant programs are available upon request and are included in the ELSA program guide.

Students enrolled in this program take the following types of inclusive courses (with students who don't have disabilities):
  • Typical college courses for credit
  • Typical college courses for audit
More about course access:

After completing their first year, students can participate in elective University courses on a pass/no pass basis. Either to supplement their education or to pursue a certificate of specialization. For this certificate, students select four Elmhurst University courses over two years from various areas of interest. Past areas have included English, Business, Art, Music, Theater, Geography and Information Technology. The courses can include two introduction and two advanced courses, and are determined on a case-by-case basis, with the help of the associate director and approval of the department chair. Students may consider enrolling in the ELSA+ program, taking Elmhurst University courses for credit. Upon completion, students will receive an Elmhurst University transcript that may be used to transfer as a dual-enrolled degree student at Elmhurst University. It is recommended ELSA+ students take one college course for credit in addition to three ELSA courses. ELSA+ students will have access to standard college accommodations and must demonstrate academic ability and sufficient independence. Before enrolling in ELSA+, students must complete at least one semester of the ELSA program. Course selections will be approved on a case-by-case basis by ELSA advising staff.

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

To earn a certificate of completion, students must complete a total of 32 credits or 128 semester hours of coursework (52 hours of required courses and 76 hours of individual choice/elective courses). First-year students complete a common core of required courses. Senior year includes a required off-campus internship. Upon completing the program, students participate in the University’s Commencement exercises and receive a certificate of completion with a transcript of their course work.

Percentage of academic time spent in inclusive courses (with students who don't have disabilities): 75-99%
Do all students in this program enroll in at least one inclusive college/university course for credit or audit each semester? No
Credential(s) students earn upon completing the program: Certifcate of Completion
Is the credential approved by the college/university? Awarded by program, not officially recognized by the IHE
Other than the credential listed above, can students earn any other credentials that are available to all students?

Certificate of Specialization

Students in the program have access to the following campus-wide services:
  • Health services
  • Access to a transcript via the registrar
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
Additional information about career development and work experience:

Career Development and work experience are core experiences in the ELSA program, particularly in the last two years of the program. The average student will typically complete 3 or 4 internships both on campsu and off campus over the course of the juniro and senior year preferably paid. In the curriculum career exploration course work exists in all four years of the program.

Does this program have a working partnership with VR to provide funding, supports and/or services to students in the program? No
Housing is provided to students: Yes
Housing options available:
  • Inclusive on campus
  • Inclusive off campus
Students participate in student organizations on campus: Yes
Percentage of social time spent in inclusive activities (open to all students on campus): 100%
Students may participate in the following extra-curricular activities
  • Registered student organizations
  • Student government
  • Club sports
  • Campus events
  • Study abroad
  • Fraternities/sororities
Students participate in these campus-wide events:
  • College/University's Student orientation
  • College/University's Family orientation
  • College/University's Graduation