This article was published on KIWAradio by Scott Van Aartsen on January 15, 2021.
Orange City, Iowa — A program designed to assist a certain type of student at a northwest Iowa institution of higher learning has been approved by the federal government.
College officials tell us Northwestern NEXT, Northwestern College’s two-year program for students with intellectual or developmental disabilities, has been approved as a comprehensive transition and postsecondary program (CTP) by the U.S. Department of Education. The designation enables students to be eligible for federal financial aid.
Only one other Iowa college or university has a CTP. There are only five other CTP programs among members of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. As of Dec. 31, the Department of Education recognized 129 CTP programs across the country.
John Menning, Northwestern NEXT coordinator says that being named a comprehensive transition and postsecondary program means Northwestern has established certain standards that are acceptable to the U.S. Department of Education. He says that having this stamp of approval lets parents know Northwestern would be a great option for their son or daughter with a disability.
Northwestern officials tell us CTP programs are designed to support students with intellectual disabilities who want to continue academic, career, and independent living instruction to prepare for gainful employment. They include academic advising, a structured curriculum, and internships or work-based training.
Because of Northwestern’s CTP approval, NEXT students may complete the FAFSA and qualify for a Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant and/or federally funded work-study position.
Northwestern NEXT was begun in 2016 and currently has 10 students enrolled. Officials tell us the program offers students the opportunity to live in a residence hall with a specially selected roommate/peer mentor; participate in campus activities and social events; take specialized classes in life skills, including practical academics, independent living, social competence, interpersonal relationships, and career readiness; and audit up to nine credits per semester of pre-approved courses from the college catalog.