Alabama G.I. Dependent scholarship program expanding for intellectually disabled students

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Alabama House bill 554, which passed in May, provides tuition reimbursement opportunities for higher education for children of disabled veterans.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville, will extend the Alabama G.I. Dependent Scholarship Program (AGIDSP) to include comprehensive transition and postsecondary programs (CTPs) for students with intellectual disabilities. Previously, the scholarship program was only permitted to pay for college-level classes.

A CTP is described as a postsecondary degree, certificate or non‐degree program sponsored by a college, approved by the U.S. Department of Education, and is designed to support students with intellectual disabilities. Programs like the EAGLES program at Auburn University and PASSAGE USA at the University of South Alabama are examples.

The scholarship program will help cover the costs of the student’s tuition, textbooks, and instructional fees for classes included in the CTP, regardless if it is a college-level class.

This program has seen a large jump in the number of applications between March and May, 25% more than the same time last year, with students planning to return to college campuses this fall.

Only 4% of in-state students at public colleges and universities in Alabama are in the program, where nearly 7,500 students participated in the scholarship program in 2020.

The Alabama Department of Veteran Affairs (ADVA) administers the progam, where only those at public four-year institutions in Alabama are authorized under the new law. Community colleges, private schools, and out-of-state schools are not included.

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