Bridge To Independence

At Nicholls State University, students with Intellectual Disabilities or Autism Spectrum Disorder have the opportunity to enjoy the full college experience while gaining the leadership and social skills needed for future employment and independent living. Known for its family-friendly campus, caring faculty and staff, and recently recognized as the safest campus in the UL system, Nicholls is the ideal location for the Bridge to Independence program — the first program in Louisiana certified by the U.S. Department of Education.

Bridge to Independence provides the support services needed for eligible students attend regular Nicholls classes, participate in campus events and activities and join campus organizations. Along the way, peer mentors, trained in the Nicholls College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, will assist Bridge students with their coursework and socialization.

Traditional University Degree Program for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Bridge to Independence – Degree program is designed to provide add-on services to help students with ASD successfully transition to college life and further develop their social skills and campus friendships. To qualify for the program, students will first need to apply and be accepted to Nicholls based on admission requirements (such as GPA, ACT scores and high school curriculum). To be eligible for financial aid, students will be required to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Degree program students who participate in the Bridge program will:

  • Attend weekly social skill seminars
  • Receive systematic monitoring of their academic, behavioral and social performance
  • Be provided with academic coaches and peer mentors to help them successfully progress toward earning their college degree
  • Receive liaison services between the Bridge program and their faculty members
  • Participate in campus activities and organizations
  • Receive assistance coordinating any necessary student or academic services such as counseling or tutoring

Two-Year Certificate Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

The Bridge to Independence – Certificate program is designed to help students with Intellectual Disabilities gain the skills needed to become gainfully employed through college courses and job-training.

Bridge Certificate program students will:

  • Title IV federal financial aid for students who qualify”
  • Be provided with an individualized program of study based on their career goals and strengths
  • Audit two college courses each semester (including core and elective courses)
  • Receive assistance from a trained peer mentor, who will attend classes with Bridge students and help them complete modified class assignments
  • Receive job training by completing 3 units of internships on or off campus
  • Attend weekly social skill seminars
  • Participate in campus activities and organizations
  • Receive a Nicholls State University Certificate of Achievement upon successful completion of the program


For more info on Certificate Pathway contact:

Erin Harper
Skills Specialist
Certificate Pathway of Bridge to Independence
985 448-4340


For more info on Degree Pathway contact:

Ms. Lakelie Hoffpauir
Instructional Resource Specialist
Degree Pathway of Bridge to Independence
985 448-4298

For more information on Bridge services and eligibility requirements, please contact:

Dr. Mary Breaud, Bridge Program Advisor
College of Education & Behavioral Sciences
PHONE: 985-448-4341

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College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Mary Breaud, Bridge Program Advisor
College of Education
PHONE: 985-448-4341
For more info email: