College Student Support Services



College autism support services

ASPIRE Program

As a college student with ASD, you’re likely facing a lot of unknowns and challenges as you move into this exciting new phase of life. The Kinney Center is here to provide answers and help you achieve success as you pursue your college degree through our Autism Support Promoting Inclusive and Responsive Education (ASPIRE) Program.

Developed and directed by Kinney’s team of seasoned professionals, this immersive program provides you with wide-range ongoing personal support services and caring assistance to ease your transition and help you fully embrace life as a college student.

ASPIRE Student working on laptop

College Bound Retreat

Are you currently a high school student with ASD who is considering attending Saint Joseph’s, or an incoming ASPIRE student who wants to hit the ground running? Get acquainted with the ASPIRE program and learn about general college success and support services by attending one of our interactive webinars.

You’ll get on the right path to reaching your educational goals by learning about advocacy and autism support at the university level, and you’ll receive valuable real-world advice on topics like choosing a major, meeting friends, building relationships and other strategies for success.

Stay tuned to find out about upcoming College Bound Retreat sessions.

College ASPIRE program at Kinney Center

Set Up for Success

As a Saint Joseph’s ASPIRE student, you can count on our staff to help you communicate with parents, faculty and University support offices, help you stay on top of your study schedule and hold weekly skill sessions to make sure you’re mastering the campus tasks you need for independent college living, like getting involved with campus activities, doing laundry, managing money and catching the shuttle for class.

You’ll have the opportunity to build your resume by working as a Kinney SCHOLAR or at an internship with a company that supports a neurodiverse workforce, and best of all, you’ll enjoy weekly social gatherings with a built-in group of friends and peer support — starting from the moment you arrive on Hawk Hill.

For ASPIRE students attending other universities, we have expanded our program to serve you virtually with a successful model of support that can be disseminated at any college campus nationwide.

Getting Started

ASPIRE will begin accepting applications for Fall 2024 on August 1, 2023. Before applying, please review our pricing structure and details on financial aid. Saint Joseph's University (SJU) bound students who meet eligibility requirements to the ASPIRE program will receive an offer of admission on a first come, first serve basis. Should there be available space in the program after SJU admissions deadline (May 1st), students attending other universities are invited to apply for the remaining available spaces. The ASPIRE application for non-SJU students will be announced via the Kinney Center's website and social media, as well as through email to students who have expressed interest in the program.

While we strive to meet the needs of all students on the spectrum, ASPIRE is designed for individuals who have been accepted (part-time or full-time) to a university and have the intellectual, academic and organizational capabilities to succeed as a matriculated student, but require additional social support services in order to fully thrive. 

Request An Information Session

Apply Today (AY 24-25)

  • While Saint Joseph's, the Kinney Center and the ASPIRE program try their best to meet the needs of all students on the spectrum, due to the health and safety concerns of all involved the following criteria must be met before acceptance into the ASPIRE program.

    • Student must be able to behave appropriately in a community setting
    • Those attending Saint Joseph's University must be able to follow all the policies and procedures as set forth in the SJU Student Handbook. Saint Joseph's will make accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    • On campus students must be able to perform daily living skills independently
    • All reports and documents submitted as part of the student's application must be accurate and complete, and must not contain any misrepresentation or omission. 
    • An offer of acceptance to the ASPIRE Program will not be extended to on campus applicants who have a history of (within two years prior to application date) physical aggression, tantrum, or physically or verbally threatening behavior towards others. 
    • Behavioral concerns such as a history of (within four years prior to the date of application) physical aggression, tantrum, or verbally threatening behavior towards others, property destruction, or suspension or expulsion from high school will warrant additional review of the student's application, including requests for additional interview(s) and documentation. A determination of applicant eligibility for the ASPIRE Program will not be made until such additional interview(s) and documentation are received and reviewed. 

    Typical Student Profile:

    • Students in the ASPIRE Program function independently on campus, and typically:
      • Maintain a 4-5 course load each semester
      • Live and work independently
      • Independently participate in on-campus classes, activities, and groups
      • Utilize ASPIRE services for executive functioning, organizational, and social support
  • $4000 per semester

    Costs for the ASPIRE Program and the Residence Hall can be included in FAFSA and loan applications.

    ASPIRE students seeking aid should indicate need by emailing Program Director, Theresa McFalls at Awards for the ASPIRE program will be determined in collaboration with the Office of Financial Aid at Saint Joseph's University. Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies often provide financial support to cover some or all of the ASPIRE Program fee. If you are eligible, or believe you may be eligible, contact your local Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to inquire. View a list of state VR agencies. The ASPIRE Program is an approved provider through Pennsylvania’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. Please contact for more information. 

The ASPIRE Experience

Bobby outside of Saint Joseph's University

I want to help out people with my own disability eventually. I want to show them that I did it too, so can you."

Bobby outside of Saint Joseph's University

Bobby Strauss '17

ASPIRE Student Story

David at his laptop

Kinney has helped me learn not only skills that are important for life, but it also helped me learn more about myself and how autism makes me unique."

David at his laptop

David Hummel '20

ASPIRE Student Story

Betsy and a young man in a graduation cap

David adjusted well and I think a majority of that was being in the ASPIRE program. Getting him the skills he needs, study groups, and connections for group activities was something he never had before."

Betsy outside of a classroom

Betsy Hummel '87

ASPIRE Parent Story


What's Included

Our proven model for college support includes a blend of case management, skills courses, peer mentorship and faculty training facilitated by our team of licensed social workers and clinical counselors.

  • Weekly, hour-long case management, adaptive functioning classes and peer mentoring (individual or group)
  • Monthly, two-hour large group event 
  • Weekly, group dinner led by upperclassmen ASPIRE students
  • College Success Classes (recommended for freshmen)
  • Job-Readiness Classes (recommended for sophomores, juniors and seniors)
  • Referral information for employers committed to Autism at Work Initiatives
  • Regular communication with family of student, as needed
  • Training sessions for interested faculty
  • Accompanying the student during self-advocacy with faculty and other relevant stakeholders, as appropriate
  • Access to the Kinney Center Employment Specialist

Facts & Figures


86% of ASPIRE graduates report that they found a job or enrolled in graduate school within 6 months.


82% success rate for ASPIRE program participants vs. 70% national average.


Participants come from 15+ states and locations worldwide.


ASPIRE students are 4x more likely than other adults with ASD to find employment within 6 months of graduation.

Director of College Support

Theresa McFalls, lsa

Theresa McFalls, LSW

Director of College Support

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Supported Internships

Successful partnerships with local organizations provide supported internship opportunities beginning the summer after sophomore year.

Merrill Lynch

Merrill Lynch







Kinney Connelly Hall

ASPIRE Programs