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Frequently Asked Questions

Posted in Effective College Planning by admin on the December 19th, 2010
    1. Is it true that the IEP or the 504 plan and its contents apply to college settings?
    No. Neither the 504 Plan or the IEP which is part of IDEA have any application in the college except as a historical record of services and an outline of what deficits may need accommodations. Colleges and universities fall under different regulations than K-12 schools and therefore are responsible for providing services under 504 on a case-by-case basis once eligibility is established.
    2. Will the Student Exit Summary be sufficient to meet the documentation of disability for college?
    Probably not. The SES is intended to be a resource for families and decision making, It is not intended to be handed to outside entities such as colleges or agencies although it may provide them with useful information. That said, colleges only have the right to request documentation information that is applicable and useful to address the request for accommodations. Students who will need to take licensure or certification exams for their professions may need to provide additional information, more recent and in depth for the accommodations on such high stakes tests as nursing, GRE, teaching etc.
    3. The high school waived math or foreign language for my son or daughter due to disability; will the college also waive these courses?
    If a student wants to major in international business, it is likely that the college will consider both math and foreign language to be essential components of the program. If a student wants to be an art major, that may be a different matter. However, in September 2000 (revised 2010), the SUNY Board of Trustees established new General Education requirements for any student in a NYS public (SUNY) college whose goal is to earn a BA or BS degree. Decisions about these requirements are made by each college and academic program, EXCEPT where the program leads to certification such as education, nursing, etc. Do not assume that what was waived in high school can or will be waived in college.
    4. Is an IEP diploma the same as a local diploma?
    No. An IEP diploma means that the student met his or her personal Individual Education Program goals but did not meet the graduation requirements necessary for a local or Regents diploma.
    5. Will Colleges accept an IEP diploma for admission?
    Colleges regard a student with an IEP diploma as a non-high school graduate just as they regard any other person who has not earned a Regents, local diploma or a GED diploma. In NYS, by state law, four-year colleges cannot accept any student who does not have a Regents, local diploma or a GED. The individual must consult each college she is considering because there is no one simple answer to this question.
    6. My child applied to VESID (NYS Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities) but was not eligible for college tuition assistance. Does that mean she is not eligible for services in college?
    VESID provides vocational rehabilitation services to eligible individuals in order to help them achieve a specific employment outcome. Eligibility is based on the existence of a disability that substantially limits an individual�s ability to work. The particular services an individual receives depends upon a number of actions such as the agreed upon vocational goal, the individual�s needs, and may also be contingent upon economic need. It is important to remember that college assistance is only one of the services that VESID may provide. A person who does not qualify for VESID college assistance may be eligible for other kinds of vocational rehabilitation services from VESID. It is always best to consult with the VESID counselor rather than assume that a service can or cannot be approved.
    While VESID�s focus is on training or retraining for employment, the college�s focus is on providing equal access to all programs, services, activities, etc., of the institution including education and employment and providing the related reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities to have the opportunity to be competitive in their college endeavors. The determination that colleges make regarding a student and the need for accommodation is totally separate from VESID eligibility. The decision as to whether colleges provide services is based on the information available in the disability documentation that the student presents to the college. The more thorough the documentation, the easier it will be for the college to provide appropriate and effective accommodations.
    7. My son has a 504 plan that was updated his senior year for next year when he is in college. When should we give this to the College?
    This is an EXCELLENT question! Many districts realize that Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act applies both to secondary and postsecondary education and therefore assume that what the high school writes, the college must follow.
    NOT TRUE! In the next section on legal issues the reader will learn that Section 504 is one law with different subparts. Subpart E, which applies to postsecondary education, has no relationship to the subpart D that covers K-12. Therefore, anything written at the high school level, whether it is an IEP or a 504 plan does not apply to college. The disability support office at the college may request copies of these documents in order to get an idea of the services that the student used, but is not required to duplicate them. Think of providing medical records to a new Doctor. She will review them but may change the treatment of the conditions documented.
    8. My daughter has always received services because she is classified as being emotionally disturbed. The college she plans to attend says she will not be eligible for services there, how can that be?
    The student is facing the distinction of a �classification� versus a �disability�. Students in elementary and secondary schools can be classified as emotionally disturbed (ED) for a number of reasons ranging from trauma in the family due to death, separation or divorce to actual emerging psychiatric conditions such as bi-polar or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Students who are acting out due to trauma are not disabled. Their behavior may warrant placing them in alternative learning environments in high school, but they do not necessarily have a mental impairment that limits everyday life activities. That student is not eligible for services through the disability office at the college.
    The individual who has an actual or emerging mental health condition such as OCD should be referred to a psychiatrist for diagnosis and treatment. This individual might be eligible for services due to the current impact of the disability on everyday activities. The medical professional would need to provide documentation of that disability which would include an explanation of how the condition affects everyday life. An individual may have a clear diagnosis but not have a need for accommodations at the time of admission due to the positive reaction to medications to control the condition. If that condition later changes or deteriorates the student may asked to submit updated information from the treating medical professional so that the need for accommodations can be reassessed.
    9. My daughter has a learning disability and went to the disability office on her campus to arrange for services. The Service coordinator told her that her documentation was too old and that she would have to be retested. I’m furious; she has a learning disability, why does she need to be tested AGAIN?
    The whole issue of documentation will be addressed later in this document.
    10. My son, who has a learning disability, has successfully completed his undergraduate courses and is applying for a graduate program. He followed the procedure and sent in the application and the psychological evaluation and was told that it is too old and he has to be retested. Why?
    This question is closely related to the one above it. The second (# 10) refers to what is called high stakes testing. Some certification boards (Medical boards, Graduate Record Exam, law exam etc.) MAY require that documentation be no more than 3-5 years old; if that is the case, then the student who requires accommodations on the board exam may need to be retested.
    These are some examples of the questions and issues that face colleges. Remember that these are legal issues. Section 504 does not require that colleges and universities provide everything any student with a disability requests, even if they would benefit from it. Unlike IDEA, Section 504 is not education law, it is anti-discrimination legislation. Its purpose is to assure that qualified individuals with disabilities have the same access to programs and services as their non-disabled peers. That means that colleges and universities are required to consider each student and each request for accommodation on an individual basis; that is how students and parents must begin to think about them also. The next section of Effective College Planning will go into the legal issues in more detail.