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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

You may navigate this section more quickly by clicking on the question topic below.

 

ADMISSION QUESTIONS

What is Next Steps at Vanderbilt?

Next Steps at Vanderbilt is the university’s 2-year inclusive higher education program for students with intellectual disabilities, providing individualized Programs of Study in the areas of education, social skills, and vocational training. The goal of the program is to broaden the career options and opportunities for these individuals with intellectual disabilities in inclusive, age-appropriate settings. Next Steps is a federally approved Certified Transition Program by the Department of Education, expanding to a 4-year program over the next few years. 

What is the application process?

Once the completed online application and supporting documents have been received and reviewed, selected candidates are contacted for an interview. Selected candidates are then asked to participate in a trial on campus. This day is designed to afford the potential students and Next Steps staff more time to decide if Next Steps at Vanderbilt will be a good match for all. Application deadlines are mid-November for early consideration and early January for regular consideration. Accepted students must complete a week-long residential orientation at the Next Steps Summer Institute before coming to Vanderbilt.

What are the factors in selection of a Next Steps at Vanderbilt student?

A Next Steps at Vanderbilt student is between the ages of 18 and 26, was served under an Individual Education Plan (IEP) while in high school, and has an intellectual disability. Eligible students must have a strong desire to participate in the college experience, to secure paid employment, and to achieve greater independence.

How do I apply for admission?

You can find out more about how to apply and the selection process here.

Once complete application packets have been received and reviewed, selected candidates will be contacted to schedule an interview. Updated application materials will be posted before the beginning of each year.

If my son or daughter’s graduation date is uncertain, should he or she apply anyway?

Your son or daughter may apply, and the application fee may be paid. However, if he or she applies and does not graduate, the application will not be kept in active status. He or she will need to reapply after actual graduation and application fees will need to be paid again. If you are unsure whether your son or daughter will graduate, it might be best to wait until circumstances are more certain. Because Next Steps at Vanderbilt accepts students up to age 26, there should be plenty of time for consideration. 

How many students are accepted into the program?

Ten students will be accepted each year.

 

TUITION AND FINANCIAL AID QUESTIONS

 How much does Next Steps at Vanderbilt cost?

Though fees are subject to adjustment, the program is currently $16,324 per year.

Is financial assistance available?

There are several opportunities for financial assistance.

FAFSA

Next Steps at Vanderbilt is a federally approved Comprehensive Transition Program. This status enables eligible students to apply for Federal Financial Aid. The Federal Student Aid website has added a page explaining financial aid for students with ID ; following this link provides further assistance.

The Vanderbilt Office of Financial Aid is also a resource. Contact Aliceteen Morrow at a.morrow@vanderbilt.edu for Next Steps financial aid assistance. The phone number is 1-800-288-0204 (toll free) or 615-322-3591 (local).

STEP UP Scholarship

Tennessee residents may also qualify for the Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship. The STEP UP Scholarship will award $3,500 per year for up to four years, and is available to Tennessee residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have received a diploma or certificate from a Tennessee high school within 16 months of enrolling in qualified postsecondary programs. For more information, click here.

Vanderbilt Tuition Assistance

Full-time employees at Vanderbilt can receive tuition assistance funds for inclusive higher education for the employee’s dependent child(ren). Learn more here.

Do families need to pay tuition all at one time?

University offers the VANDY Plan monthly payment option to students and families. Available through Sallie Mae, expenses can be paid in 10 interest-free monthly payments. Visit the VANDY Plan information page.

 

RESIDENTIAL QUESTIONS

Is there a residential component?

Next Steps at Vanderbilt will begin piloting residential options in fall of 2017 for a small number of students.  Our residential plan includes having on-campus housing options for the 1st and 2nd year students and off-campus apartment options for the 3rd and 4th year students. This model will take a few years to be fully implemented.

 

PROGRAM OF STUDY QUESTIONS

Is Next Steps at Vanderbilt a certificate program?

Yes.  Next Steps at Vanderbilt is a Comprehensive Transition Program. Students who complete program requirements will receive a Career and Community Studies certificate of completion from Next Steps at Vanderbilt University.

How does a Next Steps at Vanderbilt student participate in a Vanderbilt class?

Each student has an Independent Learning Agreement that modifies course requirements to meet the student’s individual abilities.

Taking part in classes provides an opportunity for the student to explore his or her interests and to move toward employment goals.  Participation also provides an opportunity for the student to learn valuable independent living skills. For example, students are expected to get to class on time and are expected to complete assignments within their Independent Learning Agreement.

Do the Next Steps at Vanderbilt students follow a 9 – 5 Monday through Friday schedule?

No. This is a true college experience. A schedule on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday can look very different from a schedule on Tuesday and Thursday. Depending on the student’s internship, class schedule, and social events calendar, each day may look completely different.

 

STUDENT SUPPORT QUESTIONS

How much assistance will my son/daughter get?

Remember that part of the Next Steps at Vanderbilt program agenda is to encourage independence. While the students are supported by a circle of support composed of their Ambassadores, there are times when the students will have time alone.  Ambassadores are encouraged to fade their assistance as early as they can, and then continue to enjoy time spent together in a purely social context. 

What is an Ambassadore?

A diverse group of individuals from the Vanderbilt University student body are selected to serve as peer mentors. The students receive training and on-going support from Next Steps at Vanderbilt staff. VU students have the opportunity to be academic tutors, daily planning buddies, work-out buddies, lunch buddies or job trainers for the program students.

Are tutors available to students?

Yes. Each Next Steps at Vanderbilt student has 2-3 Ambassadores who will serve as academic tutors. In addition, some  students can access the Next Steps Learning Lab where they will receive needed supports to complete their course assignments from Peabody College education graduate students.

Are Ambassadores fingerprinted?

Each Ambassadore is fingerprinted and must pass background and reference checks.

How can families get involved in supporting their son or daughter's educational goals?

Next Steps at Vanderbilt holds bi-monthly parent and family meetings. Parents and family members can play an important role in reinforcing at home what is being learned in the Next Steps at Vanderbilt program. For example, students practice cooking healthy meals for their peers. Parents can reinforce these skills by letting their son or daughter be responsible for preparing some of these recipes when cooking dinner at home.

  

CAMPUS AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT QUESTIONS

What are some of the extracurricular activities available?

In their first semester, Next Steps at Vanderbilt students are required to join the Vanderbilt chapter of Best Buddies. Beyond that, activities available to Vanderbilt students are offered to Next Steps at Vanderbilt students. Some examples of student organization involvement include the Vanderbilt Student Government Association and Vanderbilt Baseball Club.

What is Best Buddies?

Best Buddies is an international organization with a chapter on the Vanderbilt campus. Best Buddies members are students who are devoted to enhancing the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities through providing opportunities for one-on-one friendships.

Are internships available?

Yes. Internships are a required component of the Next Steps at Vanderbilt program. The internships allow for valuable work experience. Internships are chosen based upon student interests.