Background & Overview

As a land grand university, MSU is committed to widening access to higher education and ensuring equality of opportunity for all; committed to inclusion, social justice, equity, and diversity by creating and sustaining an environment that welcomes, respects and nurtures all students, staff, faculty and community; and believes that a more diverse and inclusive institution will contribute to the highest level of excellence that ultimately benefits all members of the university community in becoming outstanding citizens and leaders in local and global communities.  As part of that commitment, the university is launching the LIFE (Learning Is For Everyone) Scholars program in the fall of 2018.

Nationally, there is a growing interest in postsecondary education as a way to improve employment and other key life areas for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  In Montana, many barriers keep individuals with disabilities from pursuing their employment and independent living goals, such as the lack of IDEA funding beyond age 18, long waiting lists for adult services, low expectations, and a lack of postsecondary options in which students can learn and gain skills.  Positive student outcomes have been reported from over 268 inclusive higher education programs at universities and colleges across the US. Best practices have been developed and standards and quality benchmarks have been identified.  The MSU LIFE Scholars program will offer an inclusive college experience to eligible students in a geographic region with few opportunities.