IEP Students and College: Planning Your Transition

Get help figuring out what transition services you might need to succeed in college.

What is an IEP?

Mandated by the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004), the Individual Education Plan (IEP) is an individually tailored education program for students with learning disabilities. An IEP is designed to help each student reach educational goals to which they would otherwise fall short in a standard classroom.

Transition Plan

If you are enrolled in an IEP and plan to go to college, the IDEA 2004 requires you to follow a transition plan from high school to a post-secondary education. Along with educational training, you will begin building career-oriented skills and learn to become independent.

By the age of 16, your IEP team will work with you in developing a transition plan that will focus on more specific planning and goal setting for college.

Building Skills for College

The IEP goals and objectives will help you plan ahead for some of the skills that will help aid you in college and beyond: Academic preparation (based on your needs, skills, interests, and strengths) Community experience Development of vocational and independent living objectives

What To Expect In Your Transition Plan

Transition planning is used to identify and develop goals that need to be accomplished in order to assist you in meeting post-high school goals.

Examples of transition services the IEP team may provide to a high school student are:

  • Assisting you with researching schools, eligibility requirements, and each college’s disability access center services.
  • Your special education teacher will provide instruction and modeling in how to advocate for your learning needs in college courses.
  • Your general education teacher will provide direct instruction in reading comprehension and written expression.  
  • Your special education teacher will provide sample test questions Accuplacer Test Information to help you achieve the minimum score needed to meet eligibility requirements.
  • Your IEP team leader will provide you with support in organization to prepare you for multi-course loads, schedules, and deadlines.

IEP Students and College: Tips and Tactics

  • Once you reach higher education, you will no longer have an IEP; the laws of IDEA 2004 do not apply once the student is in college. However, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), colleges must provide “reasonable accommodations” to those in need. In other words, it’s up to you to document your learning disability and request accommodations from your institution.
  • Contact your school’s guidance counselor to be directed to programs or clubs that might interest you in your community. It is important to join a group that will offer the support and companionship everyone needs through this important stage in life.


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