-ND Disability Services Council Home
Students Rights and Responsibilities
-College and University Rights
Transition From High School to College for
Students with Disabilities
Frequently Asked Questions
- I have a disability. Will I be eligible to use accommodations in college?
Maybe. The decision to provide accommodations is based on the functional limitations of the disability and
any subsequent barriers to access. For example, a student who is paralyzed from the waist down has a
disability and needs a physically accessible environment. However, this same student would not be eligible
for access to class notes or books in audio format, because the disability does not interfere with reading
- When do I need to apply for Disability Services?
It is a good idea to start the application process at the Disability Services office as soon as you have been
admitted so that accommodation requests can be thoughtfully considered. Some accommodations take longer
than others to arrange
- Can I use my 504 Plan or IEP for documentation of my disability?
Generally, students seeking eligibility in college should bring the evaluation or assessment report that led
to eligibility for the specific educational plan. Providing the 504 or IEP in addition to the evaluation can
be helpful even though accommodations approved in college may differ from those approved in high school. It’s
important to contact the college prior to registering for courses to inquire about specific documentation
- Will my 504 plan follow me to college?
No, the 504 Plan developed by your high school will not follow you to college, but the rights and protections
under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 apply. Section 504 is civil rights legislation and
provides two things: 1) nondiscrimination on the basis of disability and 2) an equal opportunity to
participate. The concept of “maximizing success” is only found under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act) for elementary and secondary schools.
- Will I receive the same services that I received in high school?
Maybe. High school Special Education programs are required by law to provide whatever service, help, or
accommodation was needed for you to be successful. Colleges are required by law to provide "equal access
to education" (ie., access to programs, activities, and facilities). They provide access by using
reasonable accommodations; however, additional services may or may not be provided.
For example, services such as word banks or reduced assignments probably won’t be provided because
postsecondary schools don’t provide modifications that would change the educational standards of coursework.
- Who decides what accommodations I can use in college?
The Disability Services office at the college in which you are enrolled makes the final decision after
reviewing your disability documentation and talking with you. Accommodations will be based on how the
disability interferes with access to the educational environment and the course curriculum. While
recommendations from qualifying professionals (psychologists, physicians, etc) will be reviewed, they
may or may not be implemented. The Disability Services staff will determine eligibility for specific
accommodations after carefully evaluating the functional limitations of the disability.
- Do I have to pay for my accommodations?
No. It is the college's responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations to eligible students with disabilities
at no cost to the student. If you need assistive technology while studying or a listening device to access
your textbooks, it’s likely you will need to purchase these items or apply for services that may provide funding
to obtain them. It’s the university’s responsibility to provide the appropriate alternate text format for those
who are approved; however, students are generally expected to purchase their own listening device.
- Do all colleges provide the same accommodations?
Colleges are obligated to provide reasonable accommodations for eligible students with disabilities to
ensure equal access to college curriculum, programs and activities. Although individual campuses may
vary somewhat with regard to delivery methods, each institution is responsible for providing appropriate
and reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities.
- Can I receive a failing grade for a college class in which I am receiving accommodations?
Yes. Accommodations ensure “access”, not necessarily “success”.
- Will absences be excused if I miss class due to a disability?
If class attendance is an “essential” element of the course, students are expected to attend class
in accordance with the attendance policy and may experience consequences (missed points, etc) when
missing class even if the absence is disability related.
- Do colleges and universities provide testing to identify a learning disability or ADHD?
Colleges and universities are not required to provide testing services. Referrals can often be made to
appropriate professionals in the area. The cost for testing is the student’s responsibility (see question
12 for additional resources)
- Is financial assistance available through the disability services office for students with
No. Check with the financial aid office at the school you will be attending to inquire about federal aid,
scholarships, and other funding options. Some agencies that may provide support are: Vocational Rehabilitation,
Workers Compensation, the Veterans Administration, and Job Service.
- Will the Disability Services office provide services like helping me get ready for the school day or
pushing my wheelchair?
No. Services or equipment needed to assist a person with activities of daily living are the responsibility
of the individual, not the college.
For example, helping individuals to dress and/or reminding someone to take their medication(s) are personal
services that an individual needs in order to function on a daily basis, whether or not they are in college.
If the service or equipment is needed solely for the purpose of accessing a course or program sponsored by
the college, it’s the college's responsibility to thoughtfully consider requests and facilitate equal access
by implementing reasonable accommodations. For example, the college would provide a writer or scribe for
essay tests if the student's disability prevented her/him from writing. The college, however, is not obligated
to provide a writer so that same student could do homework or write personal letters.
- Will the Disability Services office help me to stay organized and remind me of upcoming deadlines?
Students are expected to organize their time to complete tasks and to track assignments. While some colleges may
have academic counselors or student services staff to support the student in this effort, students are expected,
with or without this service, to meet the course obligations as a part of being an “otherwise qualified” student
with a disability.