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Higher Education Act of 2008

The Higher Education Opportunity Act ( HEOA) (PL 110-315) is a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965. The most recent authorization was enacted on August 14, 2008. 

The HEOA contains a number of important provisions that improve access to postsecondary education for students with intellectual disabilities.

These include provisions to provide access to financial aid for students with intellectual disabilities and the establishment of a set of model demonstration programs called Transition Postsecondary Education Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID). The law also establishes a National Coordinating Center to provide technical assistance and data collection related to postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities. 

Financial Aid

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 established that students with intellectual disabilities are eligible to apply for federal financial aid to help cover the cost of attending college under these circumstances:

Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID)

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 created model demonstration programs called TPSIDs. The U.S. Department of Education has funded two cohorts of TPSID programs. The first cohort included 27 programs funded from 2010-2015. This cohort supported programs in 23 states with four of the programs being located at community colleges and 23 being located at four-year colleges or universities. Descriptions of the first cohort programs can be found here.

The second cohort of TPSIDs is composed of 25 programs. They were funded in late 2015 for the programs years 2016-2021. They consist of three community colleges and 22 four-year colleges or universities in 19 states. Eight of the second cohort TPSID programs were also funded during the first round. Descriptions of the second cohort programs can be found here.

While many of the first cohort of funded TPSIDs established or expanded programs on their campuses, many of the second round TPSID programs are creating state-wide networks to increase availability of postsecondary education for students with intellectual disabilities.    

National Coordinating Center

Think College serves as the National Coordinating Center for the TPSID programs, as well as collecting and disseminating information about non-TPSID postsecondary education programs for students with intellectual disabilities. The Center conducts evaluation of the TPSID projects and collects information related to best practices in academic, social, employment and independent living program components.

Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act

When passed in 2008, HEOA was authorized for six years. The law expired in 2014, although all programs authorized by the law continue as long as Congress appropriates funds. It is likely Congress will begin to work on reauthorization of the law during 2017. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has generated at least one draft reauthorization for you can review here

Read more about the Higher Education Opportunity Act