Does IEP affect college or university acceptance?

University can be the most crucial phase of a student’s life, and IEP can help transition into this phase smoothly. The acceptance process of these institutions comprises various stages, and the students begin to work on their applications from the high school itself. 

Students with disabilities struggle with their limitations and the anticipation of their acceptance at a university. However, students who have declared their disabilities under the IEP plans, are in a better position to seek accommodations during these stages of application and acceptance and procure equal opportunities for higher education even as an individual with a disability. 

Does IEP affect college/university acceptance?

To understand whether or not IEP affects College or University acceptance, we need to understand a few things. Having a clear understanding of how smoothly can one transition into college with an IEP becomes crucial. At the same time, we would have to understand whether or not the existing IEP can be carried into college.

IEP and transitioning to college 

There are innumerable myths flying around when it comes to students applying for post-secondary education and using their IEP and 504 plans for the same. While the students are already confused about the declaration of their disabilities with the universities, these persistent myths don’t seem to help much in the process either. 

These myths are unusually imbibed into the minds of an individual’s parents because of incomplete information at the counselor’s end, leading to practices that affect the individual’s adjustment process when it comes to their disability and the new institution. 

These myths are usually suggestive that –

  • An individual with an IEP should transition to a 504 plan for the university, as they are more widely accepted. 
  • Students should drop their IEP or 504 plans in the final year of their senior year, as it might affect their application and acceptance at higher institutions. 
  • Students with learning disabilities should also drop their plans in the final year of senior school, as colleges don’t provide any accommodations in regard to that. 
  • The acceptance rate for students with disabilities is lower as compared to non-disabled students. 

While there is no particular formula to applying to a university or college and getting accepted there, there are certain things that an individual can look forward to, before actually applying to post-secondary educational institutions, in order to make sure that their disability is addressed in the process of education provision under equal circumstances. So, the accommodations provided to an individual with a deficit may change as they transition to colleges/universities, but the purpose behind them won’t. Similarly, some changes in the provision of IEP might occur as one transition to higher education. 

Myths around IEP and college busted 

Having mentioned the myths people might have regarding IEP and college transition, here is some information that will help you understand more about IEP and whether or not it can be carried into college. 

  • The accommodations provided to an individual with a deficit may change as they transition to colleges/universities, but the purpose behind them won’t. Similarly, some changes in the provision of IEP might occur as one transition to higher education. 
  • While all academic institutions are obliged to follow the guidelines under IDEA and ADA, the question of IEP being carried over or not holds no significance, as it comes under their duty to acknowledge and provide the accommodations being recommended by an individual’s plans upon the acceptance of the student into the university. 
  • One of the most important things that need to be done while thinking about IEP and an individual’s disability is to make sure that the university being applied to, actually has the provision of accommodations required or not. 
  • If they have the required access to technology, supportive staff, accessible classrooms, and other abstract provisions for various sorts of disabilities. 

It is wise to do self-introspection and research as the first step, before thinking of transitioning your IEP to an institution that might accept the student, but stand ineligible to provide the basic accommodations, thus affecting the quality of education. 

Verdict – Declaration of IEP can be helpful for the student to obtain college admission?

Having mentioned the various myths, and persistent misconceptions around the declaration of disability while applying to post-secondary education, let’s focus on the final and major concerns that arise when applying for higher education. 

  • While it’s natural to feel overwhelmed during this process, the only way out of the confusion is to have detailed research and communication with the institution around the same. 
  • It is also important to understand that Section 504 of ADA, and IEP plans are provisions that are run on federally funded institutions, thus the institution itself stands in no position to discriminate against a student on the basis of their disability, irrespective of its extent, once accepted under these plans. 
  • While no one is under the obligation of disclosing their disability beyond their choice, however, it can affect an individual’s acceptance in a university or college, but not in the way most parents tend to think. While most of us end up refraining from declaring the student’s disability, declaring IEP provisions can actually help in getting accepted to your dream college/university since some of these institutions provide relaxations in the minimum score required for acceptance, or end up waiving the requirement for SAT scores itself.
  • There are innumerable colleges in the US however only a certain few colleges are mentioned under the specific fee-for-service programs. Other than that, the remaining universities imply no extra cost or scanning procedure for the acceptance procedure of an individual with disabilities. 

It would be beneficial to know that these universities seek diversity and inclusivity as well. Providing an inclusive learning environment for all makes them accountable to diversity as a whole, instead of it being a selective concept. So the choice instead lies in the amount of research done to find the right fit of the intuition for the individual. 

Now that we understand that declaration of IEP during college admissions can only impact it positively, we also need to understand that upon acceptance, the only difference that occurs is in the adjustment of accommodations. 


Through the information shared above, we can conclude that neither the provisions during higher education matter, nor the declaration of these government-authorized plans and services, but what matters is the extent to which a disability limits an individual to access equal opportunities and resources in the society, and the affiliation of academic institutions under federal laws for these disabilities acts, ensures that these limitations are accommodated, irrespective of their prior declaration or not, thus promoting an inclusive society. 

This article also helps individuals in understanding the actual value of these plans and declarations, how these adjustments to transition from one level of the institution to another, and also pushes forth to burst the myths, that have been creating confusion and misconceptions in the admission procedure to these institutions so far.

Leave a Comment