ADHD in College

“Q: Why Can’t My Child Bring His IEP to College?”

If your child has benefited from an IEP in high school, be aware that there are no IEPs in college. Learn about the accommodations that your college student is entitled to, and who to contact at the university to make sure they are implemented.

Q: My son has always had an IEP for learning disabilities and ADHD, but the four-year college he’ll be attending next year is requiring a new evaluation. My friend’s daughter attends a local community college, and they accepted her testing and gave her accommodations based on her high school IEP. Why is this?

There are no IEPs in college. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal law that provides for IEPs, only applies through high school graduation. Post-secondary schools instead adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504. Both laws require that students with disabilities receive reasonable accommodations, but they don’t wield the same power as an IEP. For example, they cannot require modifications in the curriculum, such as language waivers.

There is no standard for documenting a disability in college, though many follow guidelines set forth by the Association on Higher Education and Disabilities (AHEAD) that require an evaluation no more than three years old. Conditions change over time, and current performance is key.

[Free Guide to Securing ADHD Accommodations in College]

Once a college has reviewed a student’s evaluation, its Office of Disability Services works with the student to define accommodations that will “level the playing field.” This is a good time to share an old IEP and discuss what helped. But, ultimately, the offerings will hinge on the student’s needs and what the college is willing to provide.

Community colleges may be more informal and flexible in accepting an older evaluation, and may rely on a student’s high school IEP as a guide.

The principles are the same in both situations, with colleges looking at documentation of a disability and determining what will give the student the best chance of success.

IEP in College: Next Steps

Susan Yellin, Esq., is an attorney and mother of three. She is the director of Advocacy and Counseling Services at The Yellin Center for Mind, Brain, and Education, a New York City-based practice that provides educational evaluations, management, and guidance for students from grades K through graduate school.

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