Requirements of Comprehensive Transition Programs

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The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 described and defined a new type of higher education program for students with intellectual disabilities: the Comprehensive Transition Program or CTP.  

In order to be approved as a CTP, a program must meet the following requirements, as outlined in the HEOA:

  • Be delivered to students physically attending the institute of higher education.
  • Be offered by an institute of higher education that is  participating in Title IV Federal Student Aid.
  • Be designed to support students with intellectual disability in preparation for employment.
  • Include an advising and curriculum structure.
  • Provide at least 50% of the program time in academics (college courses for credit or for audit, or internships) with other students without intellectual disabilities.

In addition to meeting these requirements, programs seeking approval as a CTP must also have a Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy, must offer a credential or have identified outcomes for students and have an established program length in weeks of instructional time and equivalent clock or credit hours.

Programs that are approved as CTPs can offer three types of federal student aid to eligible students with ID. Students do not have to have a standard high school diploma or GED, or be pursuing a degree to be eligible. However, they do need to meet financial need requirements.

There are three types of federal financial aid available to students with intellectual disabilities attending a CTP. 

Federal Pell Grants, unlike student loans, do not have to be repaid. Amounts can change yearly and are dependent upon student financial need. The maximum Federal Pell Grant for the 2016-2017 award year (July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017), is $5,815.
Federal Work-Study allows students to earn money working in part-time jobs on campus. However, it is important to know that students need to apply for the jobs, which can be limited, so even students who are eligible for work-study funds may not be able to find a job that allows them to earn those funds.
Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) are awarded based on financial need.  Students who will receive Federal Pell Grants and have the most financial need will receive FSEOGs first. The FSEOG does not need to be repaid. The FSEOG program is administered directly by the financial aid office at each participating school and is therefore called "campus-based" aid.

Did You Know? Federal or private student loans are not available to students with ID attending a CTP at this time.

When beginning the application process to become a CTP, it may be helpful to contact an existing CTP and ask them about their experience in in the application and review process. A list of currently approved programs can be found here. To find contact information for one or more of the approved CTPs, you can use the College Search page on ThinkCollege.net.

The remaining sections of this module provide step by step instructions, examples, and tips to assist PSE programs in completing an application to become a CTP.

To Learn More: 

This is the first Insight Brief published by Think College. The Higher Education Opportunity Act (P.L. 110-315) (HEOA) was enacted on August 14, 2008 and it reauthorized the Higher Education Act of 1965. This law contains a number of important new...Read more

Think College Insight Brief #16 discusses how students with intellectual disabilities can utilize federal financial aid to help pay for college.Read more

A list of several key terms and their definitions related to understanding comprehensive transition programs. Read more

This webpage, part of the US Department of Education Federal Student Aid site, shares information on federal financial aid for students with ID, including how to access aid and a listing of all programs in the US that have been...Read more