Accommodation Differences

K-12 Versus College

As you transition to the college level, both you and your family need to be aware that the accommodation process changes when you go from secondary to postsecondary education.  The IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and its IEP (Individualized Education Program) provisions do not apply to postsecondary school.  Please see the link "Preparing for Postsecondary Education".

Accommodations which students receive in high school may not be applicable in college. In fact, colleges are not obligated to provide the same services received in high school.  For example, academic coaching and organizational support are not services that are available at MMA. Unlike your high school, your postsecondary school is not required to provide FAPE (free appropriate public education). Rather, your postsecondary school is required to provide appropriate academic adjustments as necessary to ensure that it does not discriminate on the basis of disability. The table below may be instructive in clarifying some of the differences between services in high school vs. services in college.

High School
Laws IDEA & Section 504 Section 504 & ADA

School district identifies, evaluates and plans educational interventions in attempt to facilitate student success

Students must self-identify, provide their documentation, and request disability services to facilitate access

Parental Rights       

Parents/Guardians are involved and must approve plan for students under 18

Students 18 and over are their own advocates; parents are not involved; FERPA law applies, mandating non-disclosure to parents


School may provide academic and non-academic services

Students are provided access to any service, program or activity sponsored by the institution. Services of a personal nature (personal care, personal attendants, academic coaches, readers, typists, etc. for out of class work) are the responsibility of the student


Educational programs, student outcomes, class requirements, etc. may be modified to facilitate student success

Reasonable accommodations are provided, based on student request, to facilitate access; success is the responsibility of the student and the fundamental nature and outcomes of classes are not modified


IEPs and 504 Plans are provided

Accommodation sheets are developed each semester and it is the responsibility of the student to request the sheets and to deliver them to their instructors and to discuss with the instructor the requested accommodations


The school district shares student plans with school personnel as deemed appropriate

The student is in charge of his/her disability information and disclosure is made only at the request of the student or on a need to know basis


Legal Mandate with aim to foster success

Civil rights, non-discrimination to foster access


Please note that disability is defined as any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; having a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.

As a student with a disability leaving high school and entering postsecondary education, will I see differences in my rights and how they are addressed?

Yes. Section 504 and Title II protect elementary, secondary, and postsecondary students from discrimination. Nevertheless, several of the requirements that apply through high school are different from the requirements that apply beyond high school. For instance, Section 504 requires a school district to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each child with a disability in the district’s jurisdiction. Whatever the disability, a school district must identify an individual’s educational needs and provide any regular or special education and related aids and services necessary to meet those needs as well as it is meeting the needs of students without disabilities.

Unlike your high school, however, your postsecondary school is not required to provide FAPE. Rather, your postsecondary school is required to provide appropriate academic adjustments as necessary to ensure that it does not discriminate on the basis of disability.

What should students expect in working with a disability coordinator at an institution of postsecondary education?

A high school counselor, a special education teacher or a VR counselor may meet with high school students with disabilities to provide services or monitor their progress under their education plans on a periodic basis. The role of the disability coordinator at an institution of postsecondary education is very different. At many institutions, like MMA, there are only one or two staff members to address the needs of all students with disabilities attending the institution. The disability coordinator evaluates documentation, works with students to determine appropriate services and deals with problems as they arise. A disability coordinator may have contact with a student with a disability only two or three times a semester. The disability coordinator will not directly provide educational services, tutoring or counseling, or help students plan or manage their time or schedules. Students with disabilities are, in general, expected to be responsible for their own academic programs and progress in the same ways that nondisabled students are responsible for them.