Skip to main content

Eligibility Requirements

We are excited about your interest in Next Steps at Vanderbilt! We use a holistic and thoughtful review process to assemble an excited and diverse class of incoming students each year who we think will flourish in our program.

Information about the students we serve:

  • We are a comprehensive transition program designed to serve students with an intellectual disability. Although applicants may have other disability diagnoses (e.g., autism, functional delay), our emphasis is on students who also have cognitive impairments. [See additional information below.]
  • We accept students who are between the ages of 18 and 26.
  • We serve students with disabilities who have successfully completed high school, and have received a high school diploma (e.g., special education diploma, occupational diploma, standard diploma). Students would have received or been eligible for services under IDEA.
  • We enroll students who express a strong personal desire to attend college.
  • We prioritize applicants who:
    • Are excited to become better prepared for the world of work and a future career.
    • Demonstrate both the need and a desire for greater independence.
    • Can learn to navigate the college campus on their own.
    • Can communicate reliably with others and exhibit socially responsible behavior on campus.
    • Have satisfactory record of school attendance from their previous school.

All enrolled students must:

  • Have health insurance (Medicaid, Medicare, private)
  • Provide their own transportation to and from the campus
  • Have own cell phone upon entering the program, so Next Steps at Vanderbilt staff can maintain contact
  • Have a reliable laptop computer for their daily use when they arrive on campus


Additional Information

  • An intellectual disability can be documented by (a) showing prior eligibility for special education services under IDEA as a student with an intellectual disability, (b) by providing an evaluation and diagnosis of an intellectual disability from a psychologist or other qualified professional, or (c) by having record from a government agency (e.g., Social Security Administration, vocational rehabilitation, school) that identifies the intellectual disability.