This bog has in the past touched on the differences between an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, and a Section 504 Plan.

While the two Plans differ in several important respects, they both can help Mobile, Alabama, students who are suffering under a disability receive the educational services they need in order to succeed in life. In short, they are both important components of special education law.

Among the more important differences, each Plan has different criteria for eligibility.

To get an IEP, a child has to qualify as disabled under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act. Among other things, this means the child’s condition has to be more than just a small inconvenience or annoyance when it comes to doing school work. In fact, the condition has to be serious enough to the point that some special services are necessary to address it.

On the other hand, all a person need prove to get a Section 504 Plan is that he or she has a documented disability and the disability affects any major life function considerably. The disability does not necessarily have to be directly related to academics.

Another big difference between an IEP and Section 504 Plan is how long they last. An IEP ends when a student graduates from high school. On the other hand, a college student who is eligible may avail himself or herself of a Section 504 Plan.

The tradeoff is that a Section 504 Plan only requires a school to accommodate a student’s specific disability. On the other hand, a student with an IEP not only gets the benefit of accommodations but also the benefit of special services at the school’s expense.

Mobile parents who have questions about either one of these Plans should consider speaking with an experienced attorney.