Postsecondary Disability Support Services: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I start to create a list of potential schools?

It is a good idea to identify schools with support programs for students with disabilities. All schools are required to provide necessary accommodations for students with disabilities, but there are schools throughout the country that offer additional programs to help with the transition to college.

Some local schools to consider include:

  • Maryland: Frostburg State University, Montgomery College (Rockville), University of Maryland (College Park), University of Maryland (Eastern Shore)
  • Washington, D.C.: American University
  • Pennsylvania: Edinboro University, Penn State University
  • Virginia: Norfolk State University
  • West Virginia: Marshall University

The Counseling Center has a print book called The K & W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorder. This is a state-by-state breakdown of schools along with a checklist of the additional supports and accommodations offered.

Should I take the SAT or the ACT?

The SAT and ACT are seen as equivalent tests in the post-secondary school world. Tests have two degrees of difficulty: Power and Speed. SAT is more a test of Power. If you had all the time in the world, there are still some questions that you would be unable to answer. The ACT is more a test of Speed. The test questions are not difficult, but most students report that they just could not get to all of the questions.

A general rule of thumb: If you get extra time on one test but not the other, take the test you can get extra time for. If you get extra time on both, take the ACT.

Do colleges know that I got extra time on the ACT/SAT?

No. The ACT and SAT scores CANNOT be flagged if they were taken under special circumstances.

Can I get extra time on a college placement test?

Yes. You have the right to request additional time on a college placement test.

Is my counselor going to write that I have a disability in my college recommendation?

Maybe. A counselor might want to include information about a student’s disability in the college recommendation letter for various reasons. Perhaps the student has shown growth and has started an awareness club or has helped another student come to terms with having ADHD. However, a school counselor can only disclose this information with permission from the parent.

I did not complete a foreign language completer in high school because my mind just doesn’t work like that. I notice that my top choice school requires two years of a language at a college level. Should I not apply?

You should apply. Schools may provide a waiver if your disability interferes with learning the language.

I got accepted and chose my school. How do I receive accommodations? Am I still covered under IDEA and my IEP/504 Plan?

No. IDEA does not apply to colleges and universities. Colleges and universities are governed by other laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act (Act) and Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act.

The student (not the parent) is responsible for requesting services and providing appropriate documentation for a disability.

My parents always took care of things in high school, why can’t they just continue?

In college, the student must be in the driver’s seat. When a parent calls to inquire about student progress, the college must get permission from the student.

Can I still get the same accommodations as high school?

Not necessarily. It is up to the college to determine what accommodations you will received after your documentation has been reviewed and they have met with you to gather information. Some accommodations may be inappropriate for college such as shorter assignments/exams.

Where do I go for services?

Each college/university has a specific individual who assists students with disabilities. Often, this is part of the Disabilities Support Services (DSS) office. Students must request their own services.

When do I request these services?

You should make an appointment no later than one month before your first semester begins. You want to ensure that you have time for the college to review your documentation and setup necessary accommodations.

Accommodations cannot be made retroactively. Do not wait to register with the DSS office and “see how everything works out.” The same policies apply for students in poor academic standing with or without disabilities.

What kind of documentation do I need?

The most common test that is asked for is the WASC—IQ test.

All schools will require documentation by an appropriate qualified professional. This should include:

  • A diagnostic statement identifying the disability
  • A description of the diagnostic methodology
  • A description of current functional limitations
  • A description of expected progression of the disability
  • A description of current and past accommodations, services, and medications

A past IEP or 504 may be helpful but is not sufficient documentation.

What accommodations/modifications do colleges provide?

Colleges provide modifications to academic requirements such as extended time on tests, books in alternate format, sign language interpreters, and assistive technology.

Will I be required to follow the same requirements as others?

Yes. Colleges and universities are not obligated to change requirements that are essential to their programs. They will also not waive required work.

Will I get one-on-one tutoring in college?

Tutoring is considered something of a “personal nature” and, therefore, outside the scope of accommodations. Equal access to tutoring for all students is required. Often families seek out graduate students for tutoring and “coaching” through college.