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.
  • Partnering agencies and districts during the 2022-23 academic year include Sierra Regional Center (SRC), Rural Regional Center (RRC), the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (BVR), Lyon County School District. Washoe County School District, Nevada Connections Academy and Bishop Unified School District.

Each student and their invited guests participate in Person Centered Planning (PCP) each spring. 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 University 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 credits in an independent study class as academic supports or 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 employment coordinator takes the lead in these activities:

  • Semester 1: Pre-Employment Training (Pre-ETS) planning, job discussion and exploration
  • Semester 2: Work experience in a rotation of three 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. Topics include Relationships and Sexuality, Self-Advocacy/Self-Determination, and financial literacy topics. In addition, public transportation travel training is available through agency partners.

Donate now to support P2I students!

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, and who are not eligible to apply to college through traditional application processes.

Common documents required for the application process include but are not limited to: the Path to Independence Application, a current or most recent Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and most recent psychological evaluation, a skills and behavior assessment, three references, high school transcripts, immunization records, a recent photo, admissions media (essay, presentation or video) and guardianship or power of attorney documents (if applicable). Links to access the application and upload the appropriate documents will be available between October 15 and December 15.

Successful candidates will be students who:

  • Have a documented diagnosis of intellectual/developmental disability or qualifying related condition
  • Are between the ages of 18-26
  • Have completed high school with either an Adjusted Diploma, Alternative Diploma, or Certificate of Completion
  • Have a minimum 3rd grade reading level (Assistive Technology use is encouraged)
  • Have the ability to communicate with faculty, peers and staff through text, voice or assistive technology
  • Have basic safety skills in an unsupervised setting and potential to navigate campus independently
  • Have the personal desire to gain the skills that will lead to competitive employment and independent living
  • Are currently receiving, or eligible to receive, supports through the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation or Aging and Disability Services

Attendance at an information session is strongly suggested for all applicants. Information sessions provide details about the application process and details about how the P2I staff supports students throughout the 2-year program. Professionals are also welcome to attend information sessions.

Information sessions about the Fall 2024 application process are no longer available as the application window has closed. Information sessions for Fall 2025 admission will be offered in the Fall of 2024. The session dates and a registration link will be posted here.

P2I graduates are doing great! Data from 2019 shows:

  • 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 University tuition and fees, plus a $4,500/semester program fee.
  • Students may be eligible for financial support through Vocational Rehabilitation.
  • Students may be eligible for additional support through their Regional Center.
  • P2I is a Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP) with the U.S. Department of Education; students may qualify for Federal Financial Aid. The Federal Application for Student Aid must be completed to determine eligibility.

P2I External Evaluation Report

For more information, contact:

Christine O'Flaherty
Interim Director

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