IEPs vs 504: What’s the Difference?

If you have a student, then you already know that there are a lot of important academic decisions that must be made, like which classes to take, which extra-curricular activities to join, and, if your student has a disability or special needs, you may be wondering which specialized education plan is right for them. When working with a school to create a special education plan, there are two documents you can choose from: an IEP and a 504. To help you with this decision, I have outlined a few of the major differences between an IEP and 504.

  • In order to be eligible for an IEP, the student’s disability must fit into the 13 disabilities outlined in IDEA, which can be found here. If the student’s disability isn’t found on this list, then they can’t receive an IEP.
  • 504s have less requirements than IEPs, so if a student does not qualify for an IEP, they may still be eligible for a 504.
  • In order to be eligible for an IEP, a student must have a disability that affects learning. For a 504, a student’s disability must affect a major life activity (walking, speaking, etc.). The disability can, but does not have to, affect learning for a 504.
  • Students need an evaluation to receive an IEP, but they do not need an evaluation for a 504.
  • IEPs follow a student until high school graduation. 504s follows a student through college until they turn 22.

Hopefully this list gives you a better idea of which plan will best benefit your student! Still unsure which one is right for you? Give us a call! Just one consultation can make a huge difference in the life and learning of your student.

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