Imagine College as a Part of Your Future

A Shepherds College education is an investment that can help your family plan for the long-term. Here, our students learn skills that enable them to build a career, participate fully in daily activities, and feel a powerful sense of belonging and personal dignity throughout their lifetime.

Rate of Employment for Adults with IDD


Shepherds Average


National Average*


Ages 16–21


Ages 22–30


  • Strategic Path to Independence
  • Gainful Employment
  • A Lifetime of Inclusion

Financial Benefits of Accreditation

As the country’s only fully-accredited, post-secondary program for students with IDD, Shepherds is in a unique position to offer government grants, loans and federal work study to its students. Eligible Shepherds students can apply for federal student aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. Accreditation with the Council on Occupational Education may also open the door for additional financial resources from 3rd party scholarships, state and local agency funds, and vocational rehabilitation or waiver programs that are designated for ongoing training or supportive care.

Council on Occupational Education

* A Council of Occupational Education accreditation requires that Shepherds College graduates are gainfully employed in their field of study, or similar field, at a 70% rate or higher. Therefore, Shepherds College is deeply invested in supporting, training and empowering its students and alumni to obtain employment in their specialty major.

  • $23,100 For Tuition
  • $17,400 Student Support
  • $5,400 Room and Board
  • $45,900

$3.0 million in needs-based scholarships for Shepherds students since 2008

Steps to Lowering Costs

Everyone’s situation is different, but here are some of the most common resources that students pull together to make college more affordable.

Along with federal programs and external and internal scholarships, your state may have funds available related to education, occupational training, housing, and support. Be sure to see if these funds might be directed to an eligible post-secondary education program. It’s worth investigating. The Admissions department at the post-secondary school you are considering should be able to provide the necessary information requested by the agency in order to determine eligibility.

If you find that your state does offer funding, it is important to learn if those funds are restricted to use “in state” or if they can be used for a school or program out of state.

In addition to SSI and Federal Student Aid options, it’s important to consider external scholarships. We’ve provided you with some links to scholarships specific to students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Be sure to check these out to see if you are eligible.

As you consider external scholarships, you will want to contact the post-secondary school that you are considering to see if they offer any internal scholarships. Internal scholarships are usually need-based, and distributed from funds raised to provide scholarship opportunities for students. For instance, in the first 7 years of Shepherds College, they have given students with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities more than 1.5 million dollars in internal scholarships.


Are you eligible for Federal Student Aid (FSA)?

If you graduated from high school with a regular diploma, you are eligible to apply for Federal Student Aid.

Federal Student Aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Federal Student Aid also can help pay for other related expenses, such as a computer and dependent care.

Federal Student Aid provides financial assistance to students in the form of grants, loans and work-study programs. We’ll explain each of those in more depth next. While not every school or program participates in Federal Student Aid, or FSA, many do. Be sure to check with the financial aid advisor at the school you are considering to see if this is something that they offer.

Here a few ways Federal Student Aid provides financial assistance to students:

  1. Grants—are awarded based on needs; money does not have to be repaid
  2. Loans—are available to students and parents; funds have to be repaid
  3. Work-Study Program—provides employment opportunities for qualifying students

The Federal Pell Grant Program is the most widely known grant from the federal government, which provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate students to promote access to postsecondary education. Students may use their grants at any participating postsecondary institution. Grant amounts are dependent on: 1) the student's expected family contribution; 2) the cost of attendance; 3) the student's enrollment status; and 4) whether the student attends for a full academic year or less.


There are two primary categories of loans available from the federal government for education: Student loans and Parent Plus Loans.

  • Federal Student Loans are made by the federal government, and usually offer borrowers lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options than loans from banks or other private sources. This included an income-based repayment option, which would significantly reduce monthly cost to the student borrower.
  • Federal Parent PLUS Loan provides fixed-rate education financing for parents of dependent undergraduate students. Federal PLUS loans may be used to pay for tuition, fees, housing, books and supplies, among other educationally related expenses.
Federal Work-Study Program (FWS Program)

The Federal Work-Study Program provides funds for part-time employment to help needy students finance the costs of postsecondary education. Hourly wages must not be less than the federal minimum wage.

NOTE: It’s important to note that in order for a school to be eligible to receive Federal Student Aid it must be either accredited or qualify as a CTP, that is a Comprehensive Transition Program.


Do you qualify for SSI (Supplemental Security Income benefits)?

SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues). It is designed to help people who are aged, blind or disabled with little or no income. It provides cash to meet basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.

The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.

SSI is not income based after 18; instead, the student’s qualification is based on their eligibility regardless of family income. Most recipients receive hundreds of dollars monthly that can be applied to educational costs.

geographical and ethnic diversity at Shepherds

  • Ethnic Diversity39% Ethnic minority students
  • 20 States20 States
  • 3 Countries3 Countries

Families like yours apply for financial aid at Shepherds*

  • 29%Income Under $55,000
  • 23%Income $55,000 to $89,999
  • 21%Income $90,000 to $119,999
  • 25%Income $120,000 and up

* Families who applied for federal student aid for the 2016-2017 year