Apparently there’s lately been a great upsurge in the number of intellectually handicapped people enrolled in colleges. According to an Associated Press piece in Education Week:

Students with Down syndrome, autism and other conditions that can result in intellectual disabilities are leaving high school more academically prepared than ever and ready for the next step: college.

Eight years ago, disability advocates were able to find only four programs on university campuses that allowed students with intellectual disabilities to experience college life with extra help from mentors and tutors. As of last year, there were more than 250 spread across more than three dozen states.

This change has a lot to do with federal student aid. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, together with new federal rules allowing people with cerebral disabilities to take advantage of federal grants and work-study money, have helped bring more intellectually impaired people to college.

Most of them will never earn degrees. Merely attending something like college, however, will help them to obtain better jobs, claim disability advocates.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer