Skip to main content
Interested in becoming a Peer Mentor and working with the SHEP Program? Click HERE for more information!

NKU SHEP: The College Experience

College is the logical next step after high school for many young people, including students with intellectual disabilities. Being on campus is about more than just going to class. Benefits of participating in campus life can include developing new friendships, being a part of a learning community, trying new experiences, and participating in job internships. Skills that can be gained include self-advocacy, problem solving, and new areas of independence, in addition to skills related to a course of study. The SHEP program gives students the opportunity to access all that a college campus has to offer.

How the NKU SHEP Program Works:

After being accepted into the SHEP program, students enter the university as “non-degree seeking” students.  Over the course of their three years in the program, they will complete up to thirty six credit hours, usually by enrolling in one or two classes each semester.  Most students choose to audit their classes, which gives professors leeway to modify assignments to accommodate a wide variety of needs.  Even though students audit the classes, they are expected to attend class on a regular basis and complete assignments. While on campus students also have “career readiness” opportunities, such as internships and individualized volunteer experiences.

Peer mentors, NKU students who volunteer to provide support to students in the SHEP program, are a vital part of the program’s success. Some peer mentors support students in class, while others meet with students outside of class. Most students have multiple peer mentors within a semester, and have many different peer mentors during their time at NKU—all of which serves to broaden the connections that students make on campus. Peer mentoring creates partnerships in which both mentor and mentee benefit. Since peer mentors are the primary support that students in the program receive on campus, it is important that students can navigate the campus and unexpected situations with a certain degree of independence.

Inclusion in Higher Education:

SHEP Cheer

NKU prides itself on our inclusiveness, diversity, and global awareness.  Students in the SHEP program contribute to this culture by bringing their unique perspective to the college campus. When students with disabilities are included in higher education, real learning takes place on many different levels. As students, faculty, staff, and the entire campus community engage in courses and activities  together, everyone gains valuable experiences.

Inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in higher education is not unique to NKU. It is part of a broader initiative within the Commonwealth of Kentucky and a national movement spearheaded by ThinkCollege and the Institute of Community Inclusion.

A Comprehensive Transition Program:

How You Can Help

Comprehensive Transition Programs (CTP) are federally recognized degree, certificate, or non-degree programs for students with intellectual disabilities that:

  • Are offered by a college or career school and approved by the U.S. Department of Education;
  • Are designed to support students with intellectual disabilities who want to continue academic, career, and independent living instruction to prepare for gainful employment;
  • Offers academic advising and a structured curriculum; and
  • Requires students with intellectual disabilities to participate, for at least half of the program, in:
    • Regular enrollment in credit-bearing courses with nondisabled students,
    • Auditing or participating (with nondisabled students) in courses for which the student does not receive regular academic credit,
    • Enrollment in noncredit-bearing, non-degree courses with nondisabled students, or
    • Internships or work-based training with nondisabled individuals.

If students with intellectual disabilities are attending a CTP, they are able to use federal financial aid to help pay the cost of attendance.

The Application/Admission Process:

  • The SHEP application can be obtained HERE
  • The application, along with two letters of reference should be submitted to the SHEP Coordinator.
  • Once the application is received, an interview will be scheduled with the SHEP Coordinator.
  • To be considered for admission, a candidate must be able to follow the university’s Code of Conduct, and must be able to use, or learn to use, basic technology such as a cell phone. Level of independence will also be considered.
  • If accepted into the SHEP program, the candidate applies to NKU as a “non-degree seeking student”, and then contacts the SHEP coordinator to verify the submitted application and admission.
  • A Person-Centered Plan will be created to guide choices for classes and activities.

Tuition and Financial Aid:

SHEP Students
Students enrolled in the NKU SHEP program pay full tuition at the university, calculated by their residence status and the number of credit hours in which they are enrolled. Because the program is a federally recognized Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP), eligible students can apply for tuition assistance such as financial aid. Students who have graduated from a Kentucky High School are also eligible to access a portion of their Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) funds.

Contact Us:

Emily Hellmann