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RISE (Reaching, Including, Supporting and Educating) To The Top!

RISE (Reaching, Including, Supporting and Educating) To The Top!
The University of Southern Mississippi
RISE (Reaching, Including, Supporting and Educating) To The Top!
118 College Drive #5163
Hattiesburg, MS 39406
Program Contact Jerry Alliston
Program Contact Email
Phone 601.266.5962

The RISE To The Top! Southern Miss program has existed as an official pilot program at the University since 2020 and has only focused on visiting students. The full program will be a 4-year, 8-semester inclusive non-degree program that incorporates academics, employment, independent living, service and social/leisure activities. Program specifics include application to Student Accessibility Services; enrollment in a class(es) each semester; peer mentors; employment-focused internships; service involvement; and any other current student benefits at the University. Upon program completion, students will participate in the university’s spring commencement ceremony. This program is a partnership between the USM School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development and the Institute for Disability Studies.

Program information submitted: May 5, 2023

Public or private: Public
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: 5
Summer program name RISE To The Top! College Summer Preview
Description of our summer transition program:

The RISE To The Top! Southern Miss program plans to offer a summer preview event. This 3-day event is offered on the Hattiesburg Campus of The University of Southern Mississippi and is an important part of the overall program orientation. Those students accepted into the program will experience campus and dorm life. In addition, there will be training sessions, guest speakers, interactive activities, social events and much more.

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: Anticipated January 15, 2024
Criteria for admission
  • No specific age ranges are required for admission.

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: 100.00%
Retention rate for first year students from the previous academic year to the current one: 80.00%
Notes on acceptance and attendance:

Pilot program and one student ended participation at this time

Average student tuition and fees for the current school year: $2337.54
Average out-of-state tuition, current year: $2841.54
Program fees: $3500.00
Additional costs: $350.00

Other Miscellaneous/Course Fees/Books (Estimate)

Is this program able to provide federal financial aid as a Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP)? Pending (we have applied to become a CTP but have not yet been approved)
Students pay for the program in the following ways:
  • Private pay (student and family)
  • Tuition Waivers
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Funds
  • Scholarships
  • Federal Financial Aid
  • AmeriCorps Educational Stipends

Scholarships available:

None at this time but plan to have at least one scholarship in place when program ends pilot stage

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:

Students receive advisement through use of person-centered planning to choose a minimum of one-class per semester. Students have the choice to take this class(es) for credit or as an audit option.

Percentage of academic time spent in inclusive courses (with students who don't have disabilities): 100%
Do all students in this program enroll in at least one inclusive college/university course for credit or audit each semester? Yes
Credential(s) students earn upon completing the program: Pending - RISE (Reaching, Including, Supporting and Educating) to the Top! Certificate
Is the credential approved by the college/university? Yes, this credential has been through a formal approval process at the IHE
Other than the credential listed above, can students earn any other credentials that are available to all students?

Pending - Students will be able to earn several potential academic badges.

Students in the program have access to the following campus-wide services:
  • Career services
  • Disability/accessibility services
  • Academic tutoring services
  • Health services
  • Access to a transcript via the registrar
  • Academic advising services (not program staff)
Percent of students in this program have paid work while attending the program: 100%
Other career development activities are:
  • Internships
  • Volunteer work
  • Community Service
  • Work Study
Additional information about career development and work experience:

Data reported for Spring 2023

Does this program have a working partnership with VR to provide funding, supports and/or services to students in the program? Yes
Housing is provided to students: No
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