Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy




» Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ELSA?
ELSA is four-year, non-degree certificate program, located on the Elmhurst College campus in the western suburbs of Chicago. ELSA admits young adults, ages 18-28, with intellectual, developmental, learning, physical and/or sensory disabilities who have completed high school with a diploma and/or certificate of completion.

Students enrolled in the ELSA academy have disabilities that interfere with their learning, listening, speaking, writing, reasoning, mathematical abilities and/or prevent them from managing their ability to live independently.

What are the components of the ELSA program?
ELSA brings the academic, vocational and social/recreational experiences of college life under one roof. The program consists of three focus areas, challenging the personal growth of every student:

  • Academics & Career Exploration
    Students work to increase their literacy skills and capacity for writing, mathematics, purposeful reading and reading for pleasure. Technology and career exploration courses, including job shadowing, internships and field experience are also hallmarks of the ELSA program. Personal finance courses are integrated throughout the program. Additionally, students have the option to audit Elmhurst College undergraduate courses, beginning in their second year of study, pending necessary approvals.
  • Independent Living Skills
    Students are taught valuable strategies to enhance their skills in budgeting, menu preparation and cooking, shopping, use of public transportation, household management, personal care and functional life skills.
  • Social & Recreational Skills
    Students have the opportunity to participate in campus-based clubs, organizations, intramural sports, attend sporting or other events on- and off-campus with mentor support and use the College’s fitness center. Elmhurst College students, serving as peer mentors and education coaches, engage ELSA participants in a range of planned activities and encourage peer interaction and social skills.

Personal responsibility and advocacy, decision making, time management and organizational skills are integrated into the curriculum.

What will ELSA students receive upon completion?
Students receive a Certificate of Completion, with transcripts of all ELSA coursework. Students develop program and professional portfolios and participate in the College’s annual spring commencement ceremony.

Upon completion of the ELSA program, students have the opportunity to attend Graduate Seminars as a secondary support in their independent lives.

How does ELSA differ from other academic programs for young adults with intellectual disabilities?
We provide an inclusive environment on a college campus, with opportunities for ELSA students to interact with their peers in various activities. We provide opportunities for support in academics, career and social/recreational activities. We want our students to continue to grow as individuals and build their skills for lifelong-learning opportunities.

What is the application process and admission criterion?
Application packets may be downloaded or requested by phone or e-mail. To request an application packet by phone, please call (630) 617-3300. Applicants should submit their application with a current psychological evaluation, official high school transcripts and IEP, along with two recommendations and other required documents to:

School for Professional Studies–ELSA
Elmhurst College, Cureton Hall
190 S. Prospect Avenue
Elmhurst, IL 60126.

When is the application deadline?
The preferred application deadline for fall is June 1; the preferred application deadline for January is November 1. Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling, first-come, first-served basis. Applications submitted after deadlines will be considered should space remain available.

How many students are offered admission each year?
ELSA is a limited enrollment program allowing admission of up to 15 new students each academic year. ELSA students may attend on either a full-time or part-time basis.

What is the admission process?
Upon receipt of the completed application, students and families will be contacted to set up an interview with the ELSA Admission Committee. After the interview, students will receive a letter of admission or denial. The admission letter will include the Intent to Enroll form. Students will be asked to complete the form and submit it with a non-refundable $200 tuition deposit that will be applied to the first term’s tuition and fees.

What are the criteria for admission?
Admission consideration requires that the applicant has at least a minimum third grade reading, writing and mathematics level.

Is this a residential or commuter program?
ELSA students will have the opportunity for on-campus residential housing at Elmhurst College. To be considered, an additional student assessment and housing application is required. In addition, ELSA students interested in housing must be their own legal guardian. ELSA students approved for residential housing are required to have a Life Coach. Students who have the ability to live independently also may rent apartments or condominiums—many of which are within walking distance or a short shuttle bus ride from campus.

What does an ELSA student’s schedule look like?
In each of the terms, students meet for classes that coincide with the College-wide course schedule. Classes are typically in a Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday and Thursday format. Classes may begin and end at different times depending on the day of the week. First year ELSA students complete a common set of required courses. Senior year consists of a required off-campus internship. Outside of their scheduled courses, ELSA students are able to participate in most clubs, organizations, events and other activities on campus along with their degree seeking peers.

How much is ELSA tuition?

Full-time tuition for ELSA during the 2016–2017 academic year is $15,913 per semester. Part-time tuition is based on an hourly rate of $835 per credit hour. Tuition includes all books and required instructional materials. Meal plans are optional and may be purchased through the College’s dining services.

Are there opportunities for grants or scholarships?

To help ELSA families cover the cost of their child’s education, Elmhurst College recommends that prospective and continuing students apply for federal financial aid. Financial aid for ELSA students consists of federal and Elmhurst College grants and federal work study. Individual eligibility for grants is based on a student/family’s estimated need. Please refer to the Financing Your Education for ELSA students sheet.

To apply for federal student aid, please complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The Elmhurst College code is 001676.

Can ELSA students seek employment on campus?
Yes! ELSA students may seek part-time student worker positions.

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Elmhurst College • 190 Prospect Avenue • Elmhurst, Illinois 60126-3296 • (630) 279-4100


Undergraduate Admission • (630) 617-3400 • (800) 697-1871 • admit@elmhurst.edu


School for Professional Studies • (630) 617-3300 • (800) 581-4723 • sps@elmhurst.edu


Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy Admission • (630) 617-3752 • elsa@elmhurst.edu


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