What Is a 504 Plan?

You may be familiar with the term “504 Plan,” but do you know what it is and how it might help your child?

A 504 Plan is a legally binding document outlining assistance and accommodations for students with disabilities. These strategies give children with special needs the same shot at academic success as their typically developing peers. A 504 Plan can improve your kid’s educational experience, whether your child has a physical, mental, or learning disability

This article will explain “what is a 504 plan,” who is eligible for one, and how it can benefit your child’s academic performance. If your child has a disability or wants to know more about how you can get a 504 plan for them in school, read on!

What Is a 504 Plan in Simple Terms?

So, what is a 504 plan? For students with impairments, a 504 Plan is a legal document that details the support services and accommodations available to them. It is a provision of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A federal statute was passed in 1973 to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. You can find more about this law on the U.S. Department of Education’s website. The purpose of a 504 Plan is to guarantee that students with disabilities have access to equal educational opportunities and experiences as their peers who do not have a disability.

A collaborative effort by the student’s parents, school administrators, and other individuals familiar with the student’s requirements and academic performance will develop the plan. Examples of a 504 plan can illustrate the type of accommodations and services that could be included. The team will first establish the student’s particular needs to decide on the accommodations and support services to be offered.

Some accommodations that could be included in a 504 Plan include additional time on tests, having assignments modified, receiving assistive technology, receiving adaptive equipment, and having note-takers. The plan could also include other support services like counseling, tutoring, or services provided in resource rooms. Providing the student with the resources and assistance essential to their educational achievement is the primary focus of this endeavor.

A student must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major living activities to qualify for a 504 Plan. These major life activities include learning, reading, thinking, etc. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the student does not have to satisfy the exact requirements as those that determine eligibility for special education services. Understood.org comprehensively explains the differences between IDEA and a 504 Plan.

It is essential to understand that the Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) developed for students who meet the criteria for receiving special education services under the IDEA are different from Section 504 plans. 

Students with disabilities who do not require special education services but require accommodations to have equal chances within the context of general education are the target population for 504 plans.

Overall, 504 plans intend to ensure that students with disabilities have the necessary accommodations and support services to have an equal chance of succeeding in school. It can significantly affect the student’s capacity to fully participate in school and reach their potential if the student is provided with a 504 plan. So, you probably know already what is a 504 plan.

What Disabilities Qualify for a 504 Plan?

What is a 504 plan disability? Students with various cognitive and bodily disabilities may be eligible for a 504 Plan. To qualify as disabled under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, an impairment must significantly restrict one or more of the five primary living activities.

Some disabilities that may entitle a student to a 504 Plan are as follows:

  • The spectrum of learning difficulties includes dyslexia but also dyscalculia and dysgraphia
  • Syndrome of Inattention and Hyperactivity (ADHD)
  • Disabilities of the body, such as limited mobility, impaired vision, or deafness
  • Diseases or disorders that persist over a long period
  • Illnesses of the mind such as stress, melancholy, and PTSD (PTSD)
  • Brain trauma (TBI)

Disability is determined individually, considering the nature of the impairment and its impact on the student’s capacity to learn. To qualify for special education services, a doctor need not have confirmed a student’s disability; rather, the school’s assessment of the student’s needs and how the school can help the kid succeed in school are what matter.

It’s important to remember that just because a student has a label or a diagnosis doesn’t mean they’re automatically eligible for a 504 plan; instead, the extent to which the student’s condition interferes with their ability to learn and succeed in a traditional classroom setting determines their eligibility. So, this example is what qualifies for a 504 plan.

Disadvantages of 504 Plan

There are a variety of possible drawbacks associated with 504 plans for kids with disabilities. These consist of the following:

  • Limited scope: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 504 plans are limited and may not give the same degree of support as an Individualized Education Program (IEP) (IDEA). Unlike an IEP, which is tailored to the student’s requirements and includes quantifiable goals and objectives, a 504 plan specifies the modifications to which the student is entitled. It means that a 504 plan student may not receive the same degree of help as an IEP student.
  • Lack of legal protections: Because 504 plans are not legally enforceable, they do not offer the same level of legal protection as an IEP. IEPs are legally binding documents that outline the precise services and modifications to which a kid is entitled. In contrast, 504 plans are not lawfully critical and are not subject to the same level of inspection or enforcement.
  • Limited resources: Schools may not have the same resources, such as specialized personnel or equipment, to administer 504 plans as they do IEPs. Schools must offer the services described in an Individualized Education Program (IEP), but they may not have the same resources available to provide the accommodations outlined in a Section 504 plan. This can make it harder for 504 kids to receive the same amount of help as IEP children.
  • Lack of responsibility: 504 plans lack the same responsibility as IEPs. There is no requirement for annual review or reevaluation, which can result in obsolete accommodations or services that no longer match the student’s needs.
  • Limited funding: Compared to IDEA, funding for 504 plans is limited, impacting the help schools can give pupils. It can limit the available resources and accommodations for the student.
  • Misunderstandings: Some school personnel may not comprehend the legal requirements of 504 plans, resulting in non-compliance and inadequate support for the student. This can lead to students not obtaining the accommodations and services they are entitled to, which can hurt their education.

It is also crucial to highlight that not all kids with disabilities are eligible for 504 plans or IEPs; eligibility depends on the nature of the disability and its impact on the student’s education. Each project is meant to address the student’s unique demands and should be adjusted to their personal situation.

So, what is a 504 plan downside? You probably know by now.

What Is an Example of a 504 Plan?

A 504 plan is an individualized education program designed to give students with disabilities the same opportunities for academic success as their non-disabled peers. So, what is a 504 plan?

What a 504 plan for a student with a learning disability might look like is demonstrated by the following example:

In the Name of the Student: “John Doe”

Impairment of Capacity for Learning


  • Added time to complete quizzes and exams (time and a half)
  • Using a computer to complete writing tasks
  • Learning in Small Groups
  • Note-taking with a visual organizer
  • Use of a math calculator
  • Positions closer to the front of the classroom


  • Special education teachers will do weekly check-ins with students
  • Using reading and writing software as an aid
  • Membership in a study skills workshop


Easing the burden of examinations and checks

alternatively to short answers, a multiple-choice format

Make use of a scribe or reader for exams if necessary

So, this is a what is a 504 plan example. This is only an illustration; each student’s 504 plan will be tailored to their unique needs and circumstances. 

The plan will be created with the input of the student’s parents, educators, and the student themselves (where applicable). It will be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure the student receives the appropriate accommodations and services. This also applies to 504 accommodations for high school students and 504 plan ADHD.

How Is a 504 Different From an IEP?

A 504 plan and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) are designed to assist children with disabilities, but the two have significant variations.

  • Eligibility: Eligibility requirements for a 504 plan and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) differ. If a student’s impairment impairs a critical life activity, such as learning, they may qualify for a 504 plan. In contrast, to be eligible for an Individualized Education Program (IEP), a student must have a disability that fits under one of the categories defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and their impairment must hurt their academic performance.
  • Scope: An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a complete document tailored to the student’s individual needs and includes quantifiable goals and objectives to assist the student in making educational progress. A 504 plan, on the other hand, merely describes the accommodations to which the student is entitled. What is a 504 plan? An Individualized Education Program (IEP) student may receive more extensive and individualized help than a 504 plan.
  • Legal protections: Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) are legally binding documents that outline the precise services and accommodations to which a student is entitled. They are subject to stricter legal scrutiny and enforcement than 504 plans.
  • Resources: Schools are required to provide the services stated in an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Still, they may not have the same resources to provide the accommodations outlined in a Section 504 plan.
  • Funding: IEPs typically receive more government funding than 504 plans. What is a 504 plan? Thus schools have more significant resources to deal with for IEP kids.
  • Review and reevaluation: IEPs are evaluated and revised annually by a committee consisting of parents, teachers, and other educational specialists, but a 504 plan has no such need.

It is essential to remember that various students may qualify for one or the other based on their specific circumstances and needs. Both plans can be helpful tools for ensuring that students with disabilities receive the necessary school support to succeed. 

The 504 Plan Oregon may interest you if you reside in Oregon.

About Us:

Jennifer Hanson is a dedicated and seasoned writer specializing in the field of special education. With a passion for advocating for the rights and needs of children with diverse learning abilities, Jennifer uses her pen to educate, inspire, and empower both educators and parents alike.

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