The Creating Higher Education Opportunities to Increase College Experiences (CHOICE) Program for inclusive learning at East Georgia State College (EGSC) has been designated by the U. S. Department of Education as a Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP). The DOE recognizes such programs that meet specific criteria and provide postsecondary learning opportunities for students with disabilities. One benefit of the CTP designation is that students are eligible to apply for financial aid.
“We are excited by the possibilities for the new CTP certification. We anticipate many doors that will be opened to candidates participating in this program through our eligibility to award Title IV funds,” said Dr. Donald Avery, Vice President for Student Affairs.
CTP was defined by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. CTPs at career schools and colleges serve students with intellectual disabilities who receive instruction in academics, career preparation, and independent living with goal of gainful employment. CTPs must advise students academically and provide well-defined programs of study. Students must spend at least half of their time in the program in activities with nondisabled students in inclusive courses and work-based training.
“Through our program, administration, faculty, staff and students are embracing the opportunity to collaborate in building an experience that enriches the lives of our students. CTP certification will afford us the opportunity to grow and to enhance our efforts for the present and in the future,” said Theresa R. Davis, Ed. S., CHOICE Program director.
“The availability of financial aid opens the possibility for more students to enroll in our program. Our staff has developed a rich program of academics and career preparation for students who traditionally would not be admitted to colleges,” said Lora Raines, a CHOICE Program academic transition teacher provided through the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA).
The second inclusive postsecondary program in the state, Creating Higher Education Opportunities to Increase College Experiences (CHOICE) enrolled its first students in Spring 2015 with the backing of the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD). GCDD supports community-based projects that bring together people with and without disabilities in order to improve their own communities.
East Georgia State is the recipient of the Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) Grant for CHOICE. The Model Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) funding is provided by the US Department of Education to institutions of Higher Education to support the creation of or the expansion of high quality, inclusive model comprehensive transition and post-secondary programs.
EGSC graduated the first CHOICE cohort December 10, 2016, at their 55th Commencement Ceremony. CHOICE is a two-year collegiate program culminating in the potential receipt of college course credit, workforce preparedness and life-long learning experiences. In addition to the CHOICE curriculum of career and life skill courses, students take a core of required regular college courses and electives related to their career and life goals. CHOICE students engage in job shadowing and complete internships in their career areas, a component of the program known as work-based learning. GVRA supports CHOICE students in their career paths.
“East Georgia State College is proud of its CHOICE students,” said EGSC President Bob Boehmer. “Also, we take great pride as an institution in being a state leader in providing educational options for these amazing CHOICE students. The availability of federal financial aid to these students will dramatically broaden the number of students for whom these options are available. We look forward to having these students become part of our growing community."
CHOICE is a member of the Georgia Inclusive Postsecondary Education Consortium (GAIPSEC). GAIPSEC is a project of the Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) at Georgia State University. GAIPSEC includes postsecondary institutions across Georgia which offer inclusive postsecondary programs for students with disabilities. Over 250 such programs are active in the United States.