UMatter Program

Frequently Asked Questions

For assistance with additional questions not listed below, please contact us.

Do I need a high school diploma to participate in the UMatter Program?

Students entering the UMatter program will have exited the K–12 system, either through graduating with a standard diploma, special diploma, or high school equivalent. This is not a deferral/extended transition program. 

For more information on deferral, please visit the Project 10 website and/or contact your local educational agency (LEA) exceptional student education (ESE) contact. Students may have taken courses using access points during their K-12 experience. 

If I am currently attending an extended transition program and deferred my diploma, can I still apply to the UMatter Program?

Yes, a young adult can apply to the program but will need to have exited the K–12 system (therefor received their diploma) before enrolling in the UMatter Program.

What support is available for students accepted into the UMatter program?

The UMatter leadership team is located on campus and available by phone during normal weekday business hours. The UMatter leadership team interfaces with students in the program based on individualized need and frequency, and typically meets weekly for topical workshops as a group. Students are supported to use all campus resources when appropriate (e.g., Student Accessibility Services, Wellness Center, Career Services, etc.). 

The UMatter leadership team recruits, trains and supports other USF students to serve as mentors for the students in the program. Each student will receive support from a Residential Coach as well as an Academic Mentor for each audited course. 

  • Residential Coaches provide a range of residential/independent living support services to students in the UMatter program who choose to live on-campus in the student residential halls. Residential Coaches are paid undergraduate and/or graduate student employees and provide independent living support (self-care, social skills, nutrition, time management, etc.) within the residence hall communities.
  • Academic Mentors provide academic/tutoring support outside of scheduled class time to students in the UMatter program specific to their USF coursework (e.g., reinforce assigned readings, assist with accessing course materials, preparing for assignments/assessments) in collaboration with the UMatter leadership team. Academic Mentors are paid undergraduate and/or graduate USF student employees.
  • Peer Mentors provide support to students in UMatter by facilitating engagement on campus and in the local community, based on shared/common interest in student organizations, clubs, hobbies, etc. Peer Mentors are volunteer positions.

How can I prepare for college? 

What are the application criteria to be considered for the UMatter Program? 

Applicants must have: 

  • A documented intellectual disability that impacts progression in a standard curriculum in pursuit of a postsecondary degree or certificate; 
  • Exited the K-12 system, either through graduating with a regular or special diploma, or high school equivalency; 
  • Be at least 18 years old; 
  • A desire to attend college, including coursework and participation in a university campus experience. Two (2) college courses are audited during each semester (at minimum); 
  • Employment and community participation as personal goals, with a commitment to becoming competitively employed during the program and upon exiting the program; 
  • Be capable of navigating a university campus, including transportation to and from campus daily (if commuting); 
  • A level of social maturity conducive to an adult environment (i.e., employment and educational settings); 
  • The ability to maintain daily self-care and personal hygiene independently; 
  • A support system committed to a collaborative partnership, such as the parental/guardian/family support of the student’s participation in the program (including commitment to competitive employment during and after the program); 
  • A reliable means of communication, including willingness to acquire required technology to participate in the program (i.e., smart phone with texting and navigation capability); 
  • The willingness to follow program and university’s code of conduct (see Memorandum of Understanding at the end of the application package); 
  • A clean/clear behavioral/discipline/incident record (as applicable from high school or the most recent employment, education, or other community setting); 
  • A strong attendance record (as applicable from previous high school, employment or community setting); 
  • A willingness to work with mentors; 
  • A willingness to participate in service/volunteer opportunities in the community as part of the college experience. 
  • The ability to be legally responsible for understanding and adhering to the USF Student Code of Conduct 
  • The ability to make own decisions. Applicants who have guardianship in place (including guardian advocacy) may apply. However, all guardianship documentation must be shared as part of the application package and further discussion and documentation may be required, if accepted into the program. 
  • The ability and willingness to participate in Summer Orientation which includes an overnight on-campus experience (approx. Length: 3 days). Dates for Summer Orientation will be shared in the spring. 
  • Sufficient emotional and independent living skills necessary to participate in coursework and campus life;
    • Be able to remain unsupervised for 12 hours; 
    • Be independent in handling personal medication, specialized dietary and/or medical needs, as well as in the use of personal medication. Staff is not available to manage/administer medications. The UMatter Program does not take responsibility for specialized diets or medical needs; 
    • Be able to sit through a class period (1.5 hours); and 
    • Be able to read and write approximately at a 3rd grade level or above. 
  • The willingness to consent to being photographed and use in marketing materials and informational presentations as well as be able to consent to participate in research; 
  • Medical insurance; and 
  • A smart phone and be able to use it consistently.  

What is the application timeline and process? 

Applications for the fall cohort will open from October to January and are available to download on the UMatter website. Applications are due the middle of January. Applicants will typically be notified of their application status by March.

Applications will be accepted via email. You will be notified via email when your entire application has been received. Applicants will not be considered until the entire application is submitted (see components in the Application Checklist within the application document).

If selected for an interview, the applicant will be interviewed independently (virtually or in person). In addition, the applicant’s family or support person may be invited to participate in a parent/family interview and/or in a Summer Orientation on campus. Due to limited space, not all applicants who complete the application process will be interviewed for the program. 

How long (years/semesters) is the UMatter program? 

Students attend for two (2) years, which includes five to six (16 week) semesters beginning with the Fall (August) semester. This includes year one fall, spring, and summer sessions and year two fall and spring semesters with an optional summer session. Semesters follow the USF academic calendar

What degree/credential will I obtain once I complete the program? 

The UMatter Program does not result in a degree. However, the UMatter Program does support students in obtaining industry recognized credentials.

Upon completion of the program, students will receive a non-degree certificate of completion and accomplishment from the UMatter Program (not USF). Currently, the UMatter program offers opportunities to obtain the following National Retail Federation’s certificates: 

  • Retail Industry Fundamentals Specialist 
  • Customer Service and Sales Certified Specialist 
  • Business of Retail Certified Specialist

Additional industry recognized credentials will become available based on student interest. 

Completion of the UMatter Program will result in a certificate of completion and accomplishment from the UMatter Program based upon student individualized career goals and program of study. In addition, students will be assisted to develop and maintain an electronic portfolio documenting competencies, skills, and accomplishments. 

What does "non-degree seeking" and "auditing a course" mean? 

A student who is non-degree seeking is not taking courses for credit or to apply toward a degree program/credential. Students enrolled through the UMatter Program are non-degree seeking and audit courses each semester.

Auditing a course means enrolling in the course for no grade and no credit. The USF courses audited count toward the UMatter certificate of completion and accomplishment (not a credential from USF) which may include additional industry-recognized certifications. 

What is the cost of attendance at USF for students in UMatter? 

Students attending the UMatter Program are USF students first. In other words, students enrolled in UMatter pay the same tuition as all other USF students. This includes access to additional resources, activities, and opportunities offered by the university. 

Below are several estimates of program costs. Since students are auditing courses and are non-degree seeking, they are subject to in-state tuition costs regardless of residency status. The tuition and fees below model the current USF structure for the applicable term and are subject to change. These may increase in subsequent semesters. These costs are approximate and actual costs will be assessed upon admission to the program. 

All students admitted to UMatter must live on campus unless they live within 25 miles of the USF St. Petersburg campus and have reliable transportation to campus. 

UMatter Program Costs and Estimates (as of October 2021)

UMatter/USF Activity

Cost Details


Total Cost for 2 Years (5 - 6 Semesters)


Academic Course Tuition (in-state tuition and related fees)

Approx. $210 per credit

2 courses per semester (6 credits per semester for Fall & Spring; 3 credits for Summer) for 3 semesters; 27 credits total



Books, Lab Fees; Other Academic Fees/Needs

Approx. $500 per semester

5 semesters




Student Fees & Application Fees


$30 application fee; $17 A&S and Athletics Fees; $50 Housing Application

Application Fee – initial fee/one time; A&S and Athletics Fees (per semester) 




On-Campus Housing* 


$4,675 per semester (avg.; range of options available)


5 semesters (2 fall/spring; 1 summer) 




USF Meal Plan*


$2,020 per semester (avg.; range of options available)

4.5 semesters (2 fall/spring; 1 summer)



Approximate Total Cost for an In-State Student who is living on campus with a meal plan. (Total for years) 



Approximate Cost by Semester: 

UMatter/USF Activity

Cost Details

Total Cost Per Semester

Academic Course Tuition (in-state tuition and related fees)

Approx. $210 per credit; 2 courses per semester (6 credits per semester for Fall & Spring; 3 credits for Summer)


Books, Lab Fees; Other Academic Fees/Needs

Approx. $500 per semester


Student Fees & Application Fees


$30 application fee; $17 A&S and Athletics Fees; $50 Housing Application



On-Campus Housing*


$4,675 per semester (avg.; range of options available) 




USF Meal Plan*


$2,020 per semester (avg.; range of options available)


Approximate Total Cost for an In-State Student who is living on campus with a meal plan




*Individual Housing and Meal Plan costs differ based on individual choices. The above figures represent averages across plan options. Please visit the following links for detailed information on current costs/plans: 

Related Financial/Cost Information: 

Are there financial aid and scholarship opportunities available for students associated with the UMatter program? 

FCSUA Scholarship
Students admitted to UMatter will have access up to $15,000 in scholarships through the Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities (FCSUA) per year. This can assist with tuition, housing, student fees, etc. Students will be responsible for costs beyond the $15,000. The scholarship is divided up over two-three semesters over the year (e.g., for three semesters the scholarship disbursement amount is $5,000 per semester). The scholarship is automatically available to an accepted and enrolled student in UMatter (an approved FPCTP).

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
UMatter is a federally-recognized Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP), which means students can fill out the FAFSA to be eligible for Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and Federal Work-Study programs.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)
If you are a current customer of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), please discuss your interest in UMatter with your VR counselor. Students may receive assistance from VR, though this is an individualized decision and must be coordinated by the client with their VR counselor. Please contact your local VR office for more information. VR Office Locations.

Additional Scholarships Opportunities
These scholarships are not automatically awarded. Students need to apply to each one individually every year. 

For more information, please visit the UMatter website

How can I tour the UMatter program?

We recommend scheduling a tour with USF's St. Petersburg campus first. By doing this, students will learn more about campus resources, the beautiful waterfront campus, programs that are offered, and student life and engagement.

Once your tour is scheduled, the UMatter staff will meet with you to share UMatter information and answer any UMatter specific questions.

To schedule your USF tour: Campus Tours
Then contact the UMatter Staff: