Every Child Deserves A Meaningful Education

Could IEPs carry over to college? New bill considers the question.

On Behalf of | Sep 17, 2021 | Special Education Law |

In a recent blog post, we discussed how ACT, a test many students take to get into college, is implementing changes to allow students to have the same test-taking accommodations they have in their independent education plans (IEP).

This is a significant step forward in the world of higher education. However, it seems that more aspects of higher education may increase accessibility and accommodations to students with disabilities as well.

Proposed law supports IEP transfer to college

Federal lawmakers are considering a bill – called the Respond, Innovate, Succeed and Empower Act (RISE Act) – that would permit students to use their education plans for two purposes:

  1. To serve as proof of their disability to their university
  2. To obtain similar accommodations in college that they had in high school

Essentially, under this proposed law, students would be able to use their IEPs or 504 plans in a higher education setting. For example, that could mean college students with dyslexia could obtain audiobooks of their textbooks, take tests in a separate room and get other accommodations they had throughout their high school career.

This law would also aim to provide training for university staff and professors about students’ needs and these accommodations. If this bill moves forward, it could significantly reduce the hurdles students with disabilities face if they pursue higher education.

What do college students face to get into college now?

Generally, IEP plans and 504 plans only apply from kindergarten to the last year of high school. These plans do not carry over to colleges – as either the proof of a disability or as a request for accommodations.

Therefore, many students applying for college now must complete several steps, including:

  • Obtaining a reevaluation to provide documentation of their disability
  • Covering the costs of a reevaluation on top of college preparation and tuition
  • Submitting a formal request for accommodations they need
  • Complying with individual rules for different schools

This process can be overwhelming for both California students and their families. That is why many students move forward without accommodations. The National Center for Learning Disabilities reported that of 94% of college students who obtained accommodations in high school, only 17% of those students received those accommodations in college.

Remember: These changes are not law just yet

The RISE Act was only introduced to the Senate in July. It is far too early to tell how far it will go, or if it will become law. Even so, the introduction of this law at the federal level is a big step to expanding the rights and opportunities for students with disabilities.