Welcome to the LIFE Program
The Coastal Carolina University LIFE program is a four-year, tuition-based, postsecondary education and transition program for young adults who have mild to moderate intellectual and/or developmental disabilities as defined by the American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD). The program which began in August 2009 is a cohort-structured program enrolling six to eight students each academic year.
- LIFE Program
Coastal Carolina University
Prince Building 123
100 Tom Trout Drive
P.O. Box 261954
Conway, SC 29528-6054
- Think College! College Options for People with Intellectual Disabilities http://www.thinkcollege.net
- College Transition Connection: http://collegetransitionconnection.org/
- National Down Syndrome Society: http://www.ndss.org/
- The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: http://aaidd.org/
- Autism Speaks: https://www.autismspeaks.org/
- National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability: http://www.ncwd-youth.info/
LIFE program staff and mentorsfacilitate and support each student’s full integration within the campus community, both academically and socially, by utilizing natural campus and peer supports, for academic and social mentoring. The LIFE program prepares students with the life skills they need to complete their post-secondary education, gain and maintain meaningful employment, and live independent and productive adult lives.
Students in the LIFE program participate in person-centered planning to determine a focus for academic coursework that will support their career goals and personal interests. In addition, assessments measuring individual skills and understanding in three critical domains of adult living – daily living skills, self-determination and interpersonal skills, and employment readiness skills provide data to guide individualized instruction for each student. Students enroll in academic coursework that supports their interests, skills, and abilities and subsequently participate in a range of related work experiences including on and off-campus job shadowing, job try-outs, and internships. Students are required to take courses to enhance their physical well-being, communication, and healthy living. Finally, students participate in campus clubs and organizations, recreation, and leisure activities.
Daily living skills, self-determination, and interpersonal skills are enhanced through classroom instruction, daily engagement in campus life, activities, and social interactions and through experiential learning in their residence halls. Assessment scores are used to determine students’ current level of knowledge and to design instruction focusing on individual student goals. Students also receive one-on-one or small group instruction in reading, consumer math, and health advocacy.
The LIFE program offers a Career Curriculum designed to help individuals master the work readiness skills they need to be successful in a changing workplace as measured by the WorkKeys® assessments. WorkKeys® is a job skills assessment system created by ACT – the college entrance test company that helps employers select, hire, train, develop, and retain a high-performance workforce. It is designed to predict success in the workplace; it is an accurate measurement of performance, rather than knowledge.
The Career Curriculum provides LIFE program students with opportunities to earn the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), an industry recognized credential, based on their WorkKeys® test scores. Many employers in South Carolina and across the country are requiring the WorkKeys® assessments to help fill their job openings. Based on their WorkKeys® test scores, students will receive a bronze, silver, gold or platinum NCRC. The benefits of obtaining NCRC include: Certification of your foundational workplace skills; providing employers with additional insight into your qualifications; demonstrating your willingness and ability to prove the skills important to today’s workplace; and providing jobseekers a competitive edge, when applying for a job.
First-year LIFE students are encouraged to live on campus in freshman housing, however, they may choose to live at home and commute to campus. A residential mentor is available to provide direct support and instruction to students living on campus. After freshman year, students will have opportunities to reside on campus in a typical residence hall or in apartment style housing. In the apartment setting, students are exposed to meal planning, grocery shopping, appropriate food storage and handling, safety, cooking, cleaning, and apartment maintenance. Students are encouraged to implement the budgeting and money management skills they are learning in small group instruction to accomplish tasks of independent living. Residential instruction has been developed to provide each student with progression to highest level of independence possible.
All LIFE students receive academic and social support through a structured mentoring program. LIFE students may participate in most campus activities, groups, or events that are open to other non-degree seeking students on campus, with the approval of the LIFE Program staff. Participation in a wide variety of extracurricular activities is encouraged; social mentors assist students in identifying activities and groups that match their interest and often accompany them to events. Because LIFE students are non-degree seeking, they are ineligible to participate in Greek life or varsity athletics.
The LIFE Admissions Committee reviews completed applications and recommends students for admission, which is based, in part, on the following criteria:
- Completed program application packet
- Required documentation of an intellectual disability, with significant limitations in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, as defined in AAIDD.
“Intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills. This disability originates before the age of 18” (AAIDD)
- Must be between 18 and 24 years old
- Secondary exit document: typically, our student have NOT met the requirement for and/or received a state high school diploma or its equivalent however, each student will be evaluated on an individual basis.
- Ability to read at a functional level (at least third-grade)
- Basic math skills and ability to use a calculator
- Ability to function independently for a sustainable period of time
- Neither has nor exhibits a history of difficult, challenging behavior
- Independently exhibits desire and motivation to participate in and complete a post-secondary program
- A personal interview
- Desire to become an independent adult
- Potential and desire to be successfully employed
- Emotional stability and independent desire to participate in all aspects of Coastal Carolina University LIFE program and adhere to program and university policies regarding attendance and participation in the program
- Agree to actively participate in assessments and interviews for the purpose of personal goal setting and program improvement
- Willingness to participate in research and promotional activities of the Carolina University LIFETM Program and Coastal Carolina University
Living in the residence halls is one of the most significant experiences students will have here at Coastal Carolina University. Traditionally, students spend more time in their residence hall than anywhere else on campus. In their new homes they are challenged and educated by the diversity in thought as well as the cultural and intellectual exchange that surrounds them daily. By choosing University Housing, students will join a community to expand their learning experience beyond the classroom. Resident students will have the opportunity to make new friends, develop an appreciation and respect for differences and learn important skills that will help personal and professional relationships through college and beyond.
To assist with the individual needs of the LIFE students, a residential mentor lives in the residence halls during the week and on selected weekends. With the approval of the program staff and the student’s parent/guardian, LIFE program students may remain on campus on weekends when a residential mentor is not present. Students typically are placed in suite-style accommodations in the center of campus for at least the first two years. Each student has a private bedroom in suite-style residences and shares a bathroom and common area with their suite-mates. As students gain independence skills, they may have an opportunity to live in University-owned apartments where each student will have their own bedroom, share a bathroom with one other student, and share living and kitchen space. All University apartments are fully furnished.
Potential Funding Sources
(contingent upon eligibility)
- Federal Pell Grant (FAFSA application must be completed; available online at (https://fafsa.ed.gov/)
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- Scholarships through organizations for individuals with disabilities
Scholarships for individuals with Down Syndrome:
Scholarships for individuals with Autism:
- Funding for South Carolina residents:
Students who meet the criteria could be eligible for the CTP (College Transition Program) Grant. Please note that award amounts are subject based on available funding.
- Funding for Horry County residents:
Based on available County revenue and student’s unmet financial need
In an effort to promote transparency within this program, and to facilitate it among other programs, we would like to share the following data from the Coastal Carolina University LIFE Program:
|Percentage completing academic year *||94.4%||85.7%||100%||90.9%||83.3%||100%||75%|
|Percentage completing program **||2||0||3||3||na||na||na|
|Percentage employed after completing program ***||na||na||na||na||na||na||na|
|* This is calculated at the end of each year by subtracting the number of students who exited the program early from the total number of students enrolled at the beginning of the semester and dividing this number by the total number of students enrolled. This value is multiplied by 100 to determine the percentage.
** The Coastal Carolina LIFE program is a four-year program, the first graduating class was in academic year 2012-2013.
*** To be considered employed, a student must work at least 20 hours a week and receive no less than minimum wage. Data is collected one year after student completes the program.
Opportunities for “LIFE Support”
- Designate the LIFE program at CCU as the recipient of your University contributions
- Establish LIFE scholarships to offset tuition costs
- Sponsor a student to live on campus
- Support academic enrichment by purchasing a student’s textbooks
- Request a LIFE intern at your place of business
- Provide opportunities for employment interviews and/or part-time employment
- Be an advocate throughout our community