P2I - Path to Independence

The Path To Independence is:

  • An inclusive, two-year, non-degree certificate program offering a college experience to students with intellectual disabilities.
  • A collaborative effort of UNR's Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities (NCED), the University of Nevada Reno Extended Studies Department, (UNR EXS), Sierra Regional Center (SRC), the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (BVR), Lyon County School District and Washoe County School District.

Each student and their invited guests participate in Person Centered Planning (PCP) each semester. The results of the plan determines the level and direction of academic involvement. The STAR (Students Transitioning to Adult Roles) planning process is used, which includes the areas of Academic Enrichment, Independent Living, Self-Determination, Campus & Community Engagement, and Career Development & Employment.

In order to achieve outcomes of employment and independence, the project is structured into three areas:

Academics & Campus Activities

P2I students take UNR college classes with typical peers. Classroom supports for students in this program are individualized based on need and come from a variety of resources. Students have an educational coach assisting them in class, if needed. In addition, students in the Developmental Disabilities Minor program have the opportunity to earn three credits in an independent study class as social mentors for Path to Independent students. Regular study sessions are offered for P2I students to get assistance with reading assignments and homework. In preparation for living a full, productive life, students are encouraged to participate in campus activities such as clubs/organizations and sports activities. Mentors assist them to become active members of the university community.


Through its collaboration with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), P2I students create an Individual Plan for Employment (IPE). During the four semesters of the program, students prepare for integrated, competitive employment. P2I's job developer takes the lead in these activities:

  • Semester 1: Person-centered planning, job discussion and exploration
  • Semester 2: Work experience in a rotation of three unpaid internships on campus
  • Semester 3: Paid/unpaid internship and/or a student job on campus in an area of interest to student
  • Semester 4: Paid/unpaid internship and/or a student job on campus in an area of interest to student; Work with job developer to find post-graduation competitive integrated employment in the community.

Independent Living

An important aspect of college life for all students is learning to live independently. Path to Independence does not currently offer a residential component to the program. Path to Independence staff assists each student to access community services that will lead to the desired independent living outcomes in the PCP. Each semester, one independent living class is provided to P2I students and is open to others in the community. Topics include Relationships & Sexuality, Self-Advocacy/Self-Determination, Money Matters, and Soft Skills to Pay the Bills. In addition, public transportation travel training is available.

P2I Application Process

Thank you for your interest in joining the Path to Independence (P2I) program at the University of Nevada Reno.  P2I is open to students with intellectual disabilities, who do NOT have a standard diploma.

Below are the documents that need to be completed by you and your family, as well as documents that you will need to gather from various sources.  All required materials should be in by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, January 31, 2022.

Once we receive your completed package, here is the rest of the admissions process:

  • Staff will review materials for completion.
  • Students with applications that are complete will receive a postsecondary readiness tool.  The Emotional Well Being Post-Secondary Readiness Rubric  is a student-centered assessment of critical skills needed for college.  It should be completed by the student with input from parents, teacher or counselor.
  • Once we have your postsecondary readiness survey back, we will schedule an activity day on campus (or via Zoom, based on Covid guidelines). This will be a prospective students-only event.  The day will include a reading assessment (looking for a minimum 3rd grade reading level), some group activities (to gauge communication, cooperation and problem solving), classroom activity (for computer skills and appropriate classroom behavior) and lunch in the food court of the Joe Crowley Student Union food court.  The material for the reading assessment will be sent home prior to this date, in order to let each student become familiar with the reading.  They will also have a copy of the reading material during the assessment, which will be comprised of questions about the reading.
  • Students who do well during the activity day, and their parents, will be invited back to interview sometime in February.  This will be a joint family interview, with student and parents/guardians/support person.
  • Students will be informed of his/her admission by mid-March.  This will allow time for dually-enrolled students (if your school district is participating) to have transition IEP meetings, and all students to participate in the STAR person-centered planning and select classes before the end of the school year.

Fall 2022 Application

Fall 2022 Checklist

Reference Form 2022

P2I Skills/Behavioral Assessment

Successful candidates will be students who:

Have a diagnosis of intellectual/developmental disability or related condition

  • Have a diagnosis of intellectual/developmental disability or related condition
  • Are between the ages of 18-26
  • Have completed high school
  • Have a minimum 3rd grade reading level
  • Have the ability to communicate through voice or assistive technology
  • Have basic safety skills in an unsupervised setting
  • Have the personal desire to gain the skills that will lead to competitive employment and independent living

P2I graduates are doing great!

  • 83% are employed or have continued in college
    • Jobs include: assistant pre-school teacher, prep chef, events porter, casino showroom usher, retail team member, VISTA (Volunteer In Service to America) member.
  • Four own businesses
  • 77% are registered to vote
  • 75% are satisfied or very satisfied with their social lives

What does P2I cost?

  • P2I students pay UNR tuition and fees, plus a $3,500/semester program fee
  • Some students are eligible for dual enrollment with his/her school district paying educational costs
  • P2I is a Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP) with the U.S. Department of Education, so students may qualify for Federal Financial Aid

P2I External Evaluation Report

For more information, contact:

Mary Bryant