About the Program

Pacer LIFE

PACER Credential

pacer credential

The PACER Credential is awarded to students who have successfully completed the two-year Pacer LIFE program. This credential focuses on Promoting Academic, Community, and Employment Readiness (PACER). Students complete a variety of academic courses, participate socially on campus and in the community, live independently on campus (with the support of a LIFE Resident Assistant), and maintain employment throughout the program. Specific goals for each Pacer LIFE student differ and are based on person-centered planning.

Throughout the person-centered planning approach, we work collaboratively with each student to develop individualized goals in the areas of academics, employment, independent living, and social engagement.


Pacer LIFE students complete both USC Aiken courses and courses specific to our program.

USC Aiken Coursework

Students complete at least one credit hour of credit-bearing or non-credit bearing (e.g., auditing) coursework each semester.


Non-Credit Bearing (Auditing)

Students complete all exams and work as described in the course syllabus. They earn a final grade based on the established grading scale for that course.

Students are assessed using a learning contract. We collaboratively develop learning goals and objectives for the student. A rubric is utilized to measure progress towards each goal.

Students must enroll in UNIV 101: Pacer Foundations the first semester. This course helps first-year students adjust to the university, develop a better understanding of the learning process, and acquire essential academic success skills.

After the first semester, students work with an academic advisor to select at least one USC Aiken course (1-3 credit hours) each semester.

Pacer LIFE Coursework

Students complete a series of courses about daily living skills (e.g., laundry, cooking, budgeting) each semester. The coursework includes:

  • First Semester: Personal Responsibility I and Group Dynamics I
  • Second Semester: Personal Responsibility II and Group Dynamics II
  • Third Semester: College to Career I
  • Fourth Semester: College to Career II


Students receive job training by completing two additional Pacer LIFE specific courses: Supportive Internship I and II. Students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to find, obtain, and maintain employment in these courses.

Each semester (with support from staff) students work for about 5-20 hours per week. During the first semester, students get a job on our campus. Students can get a job on or off campus for the remaining semesters.

The number of hours at a jobsite weekly is based on person-centered planning and the amount of time the student can work each week independently (or with scaffolded support).

Program staff also provide job coaching, i.e., help students learn the knowledge and skills needed to perform the job.

First Semester

Second Semester

Third Semester

Fourth Semester

Unpaid internships on campus

Minimum of 5 hours per week

Unpaid or paid internships on campus or in the community

Minimum of 10 hours per week

Unpaid or paid internships on campus or in the community

Minimum of 15 hours per week

Paid internships on campus or in the community

Minimum of 20 hours per week

Independent Living

Students live in Pacer Commons, which is a four-bedroom apartment style dorm on campus. Three Pacer LIFE students and one LIFE Resident Assistant (LRA) share an apartment. Every student has their own bedroom. Students share two bathrooms, a living room, and kitchen. The LRA helps the students with independent living during the evening and on the weekends.

Student Life

student life

Pacer LIFE students are first and foremost USC Aiken students. They have access to all campus life opportunities. This includes student clubs, organizations, and Greek Life.

Students have Social and Wellness mentors. These students provide individualized (1) social experiences on campus and in the community, (2) and support in the areas of physical activity and nutrition.

Other Places on Campus