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RISE (Road to Independent Living, Spiritual Formation and Employment)

RISE (Road to Independent Living, Spiritual Formation and Employment)
Judson University
RISE (Road to Independent Living, Spiritual Formation and Employment)
1151 N. State Street
Elgin, IL 60123
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Program Contact Drew Burless
Phone 847-628-2525

RISE stands for Road to Independent Living, Spiritual Formation and Employment. The purpose is to give students with intellectual disabilities the college life experience, in a Christian community, and to prepare them to live as independently as possible and to gain skills that will assist them to be competitively employed.
RISE is a 2-year program that includes a customized curriculum, as well as opportunities for the students to audit traditional student courses. The customized curriculum includes independent living, personal fitness & wellness, person-centered planning, professional skills and current events. Both on- and off-campus internships are part of the program. RISE students are fully-engaged in Judson student life – participating in chapel three times per week, sporting events, music/theater/social activities, etc. Our students earn a Certificate of Completion in Liberal Arts and participate in the Judson University graduation ceremony.
Two RISE students are assigned to a dorm room, with a RISE Resident Advisor living across the hall. Traditional Judson students also have the opportunity to be Learning or Vocational Advisors for the program.
RISE cohorts, of 8-10 students each, begin every Fall semester; tuition, room & board match the costs that traditional Judson students pay. Each RISE cohort follows a typical academic year (4 semesters, spanning August through May for 2 academic years). Ideal candidates are students 18-25 years of age, with a diagnosed intellectual disability, a high school diploma or equivalent, practical reading/writing skills and a desire to learn with traditional students. An online application is available at; we begin reviewing applications on February 1st and continue to accept applications until the cohort is filled.

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: 20
Deadline to apply to this program: Start reviewing applications on February 1st, but accept applications until the 10-student cohort is full
Requirements for admission to this program:
  • Other diploma (e.g., IEP diploma, certificate of attendance)
  • 18-25
  • Practical reading/writing skills A desire to live on campus and learn with traditional students
Accepts out-of-state students?: Yes
Please indicate which disabilities students in this program have:
  • Intellectual disability
  • Autism
Program length: 2 years
Acceptance, Retention, and Completion Rates
Percent of students applying who are admitted: 43%
Retention rate: 67%
Tuition amount: $14,440.00
Room and board: $10,290.00
Program specific fees: $1,030.00
Additional costs: $2,500.00
Estimated indirect costs for books, transportation, entertainment, etc. during the academic year.
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)
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Funds
  • Scholarships
  • Adult intellectual/developmental disability state agency funds
  • Federal Financial Aid
  • Grant Funding
  • Medicaid Waiver or Day Habilitation funds
  • Church sponsorships, Corporate & Individual donations; Judson is a 501c3 entity.
Scholarships available:

There are four endowments that have been established that each award a minimum of $500 respectively to the student selected for the scholarship. We also have some scholarship funding provided by local private foundations.

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

Each RISE student selects a subject area concentration. The RISE staff leverages person-centered planning to help the student select his or her concentration from the following options: Business & Entrepreneurship, Christian Ministries, Creative Arts, Education, Health & Wellness, Math & Technology. These typical college courses are taken for audit or adapted syllabus at the discretion of the faculty and student.

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

The students take the following classes together: Independent Living (2 hrs); Professional Skills (2 hrs); Person-Centered Planning (2 hrs); Current Events (1 hr); Personal Fitness and Wellness (1 hr). Each student also has an on- or off-campus internship, in which s/he will work 4-6 hours/week with a traditional student Vocational Advisor.

Time spent only with other students in this program: About half the time
Credential(s) students earn upon completing the program: Certificate of Completion in Liberal Arts
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: 0%
Other career development activities are:
  • Internships
  • Volunteer work
  • Community Service
Percent of students in this program that had paid work after exiting the program: 100%
We offer the following specialized credentials:

We are not anticipating doing this; the certificate will be for liberal arts.

Housing is provided to students: Yes
Housing options available:
  • Inclusive on 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:

Judson offers opportunities for RISE students to fully-participate in university activities, including attending sporting events (soccer, baseball, bowling, basketball, volleyball, etc.) and music & theater activities. Currently RISE students manage sports teams, participate in the cheer/dance team, sing in the Judson University choir and attend many dorm events and Judson Student Organization activities. The Judson community has fully-embraced the RISE Program, so that our students are welcome in all aspects of the college life experience.

Last updated: Wednesday, March 4, 2020 - 13:18