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Differences Between High School and College

Legal requirements for disability services and accommodations vary widely between the high school and college level. The chart below will help you understand the differences between high school and college services for students with disabilities:

K-12 (IDEA)

College (ADA)

Education is a RIGHT and must be provided in all appropriate environments to all appropriate individuals.

Education is NOT A RIGHT.  Students must meet certain admissions criteria and be defined under the ADA as “otherwise qualified.”

School districts are responsible for identifying students’ disabilities.

Students must SELF-IDENTIFY to the Office of Student Counseling and Disability Services.

School districts must provide free testing, evaluation, and transportation to programs.

Students must provide transportation as well as current and appropriate documentation.  If the documentation is insufficient, students will be responsible for obtaining appropriate evaluations at their own expense.

School districts develop Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). 

IEPs are not developed in college as there is no special education.

School districts are responsible for providing all IEP supports and services.

Students are responsible for activating and using approved services each semester.

Fundamental alterations of programs and curricula are required.

No fundamental alterations of programs and curricula are required.

Personal services for medical/physical disabilities are required.

No personal services (i.e. homework assistance, personal attendant) are required.