LIFE Program - Coastal Carolina University
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LIFE Program

The Coastal Carolina University LIFE program is a four-year, tuition-based, post-secondary education and transition program for young adults who have a mild to moderate intellectual and/or developmental disability as defined by AAIDD.

Welcome to the LIFE Program

The Coastal Carolina University LIFE program enrolls 10-12 students each academic year.

  • LIFE Program
    Coastal Carolina University
    Prince Building 123
    100 Tom Trout Drive
    P.O. Box 261954
    Conway, SC 29528-6054
  • 843-349-2665
  • Applications for fall cohort 2021 coming soon!
  • LIFE Application (PDF)

Student at Commencement LIFE program staff, mentors and tutors facilitate 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/tutoring 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 participates 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. Students receive classroom instruction along with real-life experience through volunteer, paid, and unpaid internship opportunities.

Seniors in the LIFE Program have the opportunity to participate in full-time internships through our partnership with Project SEARCH. The Project SEARCH Transition-to-Work Program is a unique, business-led, one-year employment preparation program that takes place entirely at the workplace. Total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on training through worksite rotations. The program culminates in individualized job development.


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 the highest level of independence possible.

All LIFE students receive academic and social support through a structured mentoring/tutoring program. LIFE students may participate in most campus activities, groups, or events that are open to other non-degree seeking students on campus. Participation in a wide variety of extracurricular activities is required; social mentors assist students in identifying activities and groups that match their interests and often accompany them to events. Because LIFE students are non-degree-seeking, they are ineligible to participate in NCAA sanctioned varsity athletics.

Admissions Criteria

The LIFE Admissions Committee reviews completed applications and recommends students for admission, which is based, in part, on the following criteria:

  • The completed program application packet
  • Required documentation of 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 students have NOT met the requirement for and/or received a state high school diploma or its equivalent, however, each student is 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 (at least three hours)
  • Neither has nor exhibits a history of difficult, challenging behavior
  • Maintains adult rights
  • 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 LIFE program and Coastal Carolina University

Residence Life

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 home students 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, LIFE students may remain on campus on weekends when a residential mentor is not present. Students typically live in suite-style accommodations in the center of campus for at least the first year. 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 and bathroom, 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
  • 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
  • LIFE Program Department Endowed Scholarship

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