College Options for Tennesseans with Intellectual Disabilities featuring the TigerLIFE program at the University of Memphis

In Tennessee, students with intellectual disabilities are able to attend college. Since 2010, five colleges have offered inclusive post-secondary education opportunities for high school graduates interested in furthering their education.

According to the TN Inclusive Higher Education Alliance website, “students with intellectual disabilities attending a comprehensive training program (CTP), are able to use federal financial aid to help pay the cost of attendance.”

CTPs are degree, certificate, or non-degree programs for students with intellectual disabilities. All of TN’s programs are CTPs but only one program, TigerLIFE at the University of Memphis, is a designated community rehabilitation provider (CRP).

CRPs focus on “practices that reflect individual integrated employment as a priority outcome,” as stated on the Think Works website.

TigerLIFE at the University of Memphis by Maurice “Moe” Williams

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Maurice “Moe” Williams photo courtesy of the University of Memphis TigerLIFE website

TigerLIFE (Learning, Independence, Fostering Employment & Education) at the University of Memphis is “a 60-hour program culminating in a completion award in Career and Community Studies. Participation in the TigerLIFE program provides students with an option for continuing their education beyond high school to increase employment opportunities,” as indicated on the TigerLIFE website.

As noted in the Daily Helmsman, “Moe Williams, associate director of the University of Memphis Institute on Disability and founder of the TigerLIFE program, developed the program as part of his Master’s thesis. Williams was working at the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau as the director of education programs while working on his Master’s degree.”

“We (TigerLIFE) are unique because we are the only employment-based training institute in the state of TN,” stated Williams.

TigerLIFE also has these three unique features.

1. TigerLIFE has the highest enrollment in the state, 75–100 students.

2. The tuition at TigerLIFE is the least expensive in the state, $4,950.00 per semester.

3. The TigerLIFE program is administered alongside the University of Memphis Institute on Disability (UMID), a team of disability researchers.

Williams mentioned, “We operate differently and work collaboratively with a behavioral staff who monitors our curriculum and their day to day activities.”

The University of Memphis Institute on Disability (UMID)

The University of Memphis Institute on Disability (UMID) as stated on the website has “formed alliances with government, private, academic and legal entities to research and develop programs which encourage people with disabilities to pursue higher education toward graduation and employment.”

TigerLIFE collaborates with the UMID, particularly for behavioral intervention and program analysis. UMID sets the curriculum for students, assists with career readiness, and job placement.

Tennessee’s Inclusive Post-Secondary Institutions

All of TN’s programs have different features and benefits such as on-campus housing, which TigerLIFE does not provide. Below is a list of the other inclusive post-secondary institutions in the Tennessee.

Carjamin Scott can be reached at and you can follow her on twitter @scottcarjie.

Originally published at on July 26, 2018.

Carjie Scott blogs at and you can follow her on twitter @scottcarjie

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