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Overview of the 504 Plan and the IEP

October 19, 2021
Special Education

What is it?

504 Plan

A 504 plan is a yearly, school specific accommodation plan created between a family and a school for a student with a diagnosed disability. It provides accommodations in the general education setting. It is authorized by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Individualized Education Program (IEP)

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) mandates special education services (instruction, programs, related services like counseling, physical or speech therapy) and accommodations for an eligible student. Services may be provided in any setting. It is authorized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

When is it appropriate?

504 Plan

When a student requires accommodations based on a doctor’s disability diagnosis.


When a student with a disability requires special education services, programs, and accommodations

Who is eligible?

504 Plan

Any student with the diagnosis of an impairment that limits their ability to participate in one or more important life activities like learning, hearing, seeing, walking, concentrating, or communicating.

The disability can be temporary or permanent. Examples: Health or physical conditions like allergies, asthma, diabetes, and visual impairment.


Students who meet the criteria for one of 13 classifications of educational disability set by federal law: 

  • Autism
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Deafness
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Hearing impairment
  • Intellectual disability
  • Learning disability
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Other health impairment
  • Speech or language impairment
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairment

What could be in it?

504 Plan

Examples of 504 Accommodations:

  • Extended testing time
  • Enlarged type or directions for tests read aloud
  • Scribe for testing
  • Use of computer or notetaker for class notes or classwork
  • Preferential seating in class
  • Breaks for focus or food 
  • A set time and location for taking medication
  • Use of elevator to travel throughout building


Components of an IEP:

  • All accommodations that can be on a 504 can also be on an IEP
  • Information on the student’s present levels of performance and special factors
  • Annual goals
  • Appropriate special education programs and services 
  • Progress reporting requirements
  • Participation with students without disabilities
  • Participation in district/state assessments, promotion, 12 month services and transportation
  • Transition services (for high school age students)

What are the steps to get it?

504 Plan

The process varies by school district. In NYC, the process set under Chancellor’s Regulation is:  

  1. Family fills out 504 request form and shares  diagnostic or evaluation material from a doctor, psychologist, or other professional.
  2. Family meets with school 504 team at a meeting where 504 request is reviewed, then approved or denied.
  3. Due process options are available.


The steps set under the IDEA are:

  1. Family makes a referral for evaluation.
  2. Evaluations are conducted.
  3. IEP eligibility meeting is held with the family.
  4. If eligible, IEP is developed.
  5. IEP is finalized and services are implemented.
  6. Due process options are available

How long does it last? Can I renew it?

504 Plan

A 504 must be renewed yearly with the school team for accommodations to continue from year to year. Parents should share updated diagnostic information each year. Parents will participate in future 504 team meetings if changes to plan are being considered.


Federal and state regulations specify all steps in the special education process, including annual IEP reviews and triennial re-evaluations. Parents have the right to be informed and participate in all educational decisions, and are strongly encouraged to participate. Changes cannot be made to an IEP without informing parents and providing them an opportunity to participate.