Will My IEP Follow Me to College?

If you have had the advantage of an Individual Educational Plan in elementary and secondary school you may wonder if you will have an IEP in college. Rest assured you will be able to have accommodations, but they will not be in the form of an IEP. The Rehabilitation Act of the 1970s and the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act of the 1990s ensure that your learning will be accommodated in post-secondary education.

Hard Fought, Hard Won

Educational disabilities take many forms. Schools are sometimes reluctant to test individuals for this program because it represents a substantial investment of time and money for the district. Teachers usually have the opportunity to try adjustments to the classroom environment or make other accommodations without going through the formal process of identifying students for the government programs. If the adjustments do not work, the formal protocol is set in place and students enter into the program. Schools must provide accommodations and adjustments that “level the learning playing field” to be in compliance with the federal mandates. If you were identified as having a learning disability, your educational opportunities were expanded by the accommodations that were made. However, post-secondary schools do not have all the responsibilities of school districts in complying.

How Colleges Must Comply

High schools must provide “free appropriate public education,” according to the website “www.2ed.gov.” Colleges, however, just have to provide appropriate adjustments. For instance, dorms must be available that allow handicapped entrance and access to restrooms and upper floors at the same price that housing is available to other students. They may not refuse you admission because of your disability. Some of the accommodations schools make include early registration, reduced course load requirements, providing sign-language translators and note-takers during class and making certain computers in public study areas have screen readers and voice recognition along with other adaptations. Schools do not have to provide tutors or readers for your study time and, though they may give you longer to takes a test, they do not have to change the test content. The goal is to make access to a degree equally attainable for all students. The services are not necessarily free.

Post-Secondary Student Responsibilities

As a student in elementary school or in high school, you probably did not request evaluation for the federal programs. Someone, probably a parent, counselor or teacher, did it for you. As a college student, however, you are responsible to inform the school of your disability in a timely manner that allows them to make accommodations for you. You may have to document or prove your disability and provide a copy of your IEP. Rambo Research and Consulting also says you should research the school you have chosen to find out what accommodations they make and what they charge for services.

Your IEP is a valuable tool that allows you to compete with students without disabilities while attending public school. The government guarantees you an equal chance to earn a degree and pursue a career. As you leave elementary and secondary education, the accommodations your receive may change. One of the largest changes may be that all services may not be free. Still, the government laws that pertain to education for persons with disabilities ensures you will help you be successful in college.