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504 Plan / Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

Once you turn 18 you are considered an adult and assume legal responsibility for yourself (known as Age of Majority). Once you reach the age of majority, you have the right the right to make your own educational, employment, and independent living decisions. Students with disabilities are entitled to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). If you receive special education services, these services, supports, and accommodations will be provided at no cost to you. If you have a disability in high school, you may have either a 504 Plan or an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). These plans outline what you need in order to be successful in school. Understanding these plans and your rights can help you advocate for what you need.

  504 Plan IEP
  • Between ages of 3 and 22
  • Have a chronic, health-related, learning or behavioral disability that limits at least one major life activity (such as reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, etc.)
  • Do not qualify for special education services under IDEA
  • Between ages of 3 and 21
  • Have one or more disability as outlined by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
  • Evaluated as needing special education services
Is there a written education plan?
  • Plan does not have to be a written document
  • Less comprehensive than an IEP
  • No specified due process
  • Formal written document
  • Must meet due process requirements (detailed plans and timelines for evaluation, specialized instruction, and education services)
  • Has many procedural safeguards and rights
  • Receive accommodations and/ or modifications to curricula in a mainstream classroom
  • May receive specialized instruction and other educational services in a mainstream classroom or special education classroom depending on needs
Can plan be used in college? Does not guarantee services in college, but can be helpful to advocate for needs and services. Does not guarantee services in college, but can be helpful to advocate for needs and services.
For more information: WV Department of Education - The IEP & Section 504 Guidance for West Virginia Schools and Districts
Source: Bryer, M., Golden, L. & Logan, D. (2016). What is a 504 plan and how can it help my teen? Tip Sheet 10. Worcester, MA: University of Massachusetts Medical School, Department of Psychiatry, Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center (SPARC), Transitions Research and Training Center.

If you have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), consider taking on more of a lead in your IEP team meeting and transition planning. Begin by interviewing your teachers, parents, and counselors in order to learn about more about your strengths, your disability, any assessments completed, as well as the results of those assessments. Plan to increase your level of involvement in the development of your IEP.

During the transition process, the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services will be invited to your IEP meetings. Their counselors can help you develop an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). This plan includes your work/career goals, interests, preferences, and services available to help you reach your goals. While the IEP focuses on education, the IPE focuses on your career goals.

The Summary of Performance is a report developed by your school that summarizes your academic achievements and performance along with any academic and/or employment accommodations that will be essential for success in projected postsecondary settings. This plan is important to your transition planning. The information can help you establish your eligibility for accommodations and supports in college or other training programs and eligibility for agency supports. This report is typically provided during your final year in high school, but can be developed earlier.

The IEP & Section 504: Guidance for West Virginia Schools and Districts

The IEP & Section 504: Guidance for West Virginia Schools and Districts