504 plan: overview, process and what to expect (2023)

A 504 plan is part of an anti-discrimination law in the United States.Helps provide resources for children with disabilities. Students with mental or physical health issues that affect their ability to performactivities of daily livingyou may qualify for this plan. It is provided at no additional cost for families.

The plan covers accommodations or services that the school can provide to help remove barriers to the child's ability to continue attending school. Examples of accommodations include a school nurse health plan, modified textbooks, an adjusted class schedule, ramps orelevators, and more.

This article takes a look at who qualifies for a 504, how it's developed, what it covers, and what to expect.

504 plan: overview, process and what to expect (1)

Differences Between a 504 Plan and an IEP

The 504 and theindividual educational plan(IEP) are designed to help support a child with a disability at no cost to families. However, the 504 comes from an anti-discrimination law (the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) and the IEP falls under special education law (theIndividuals with Disabilities Education Act).Here are some important differences:

  • Eligibility: The 504 covers a wider range of impairments than the IEP. 504 provides accommodations for a child with a disability to overcome barriers in school. An IEP is more appropriate for a child who is falling behind academically.
  • Assessment: The 504 assessment process is less formal than the IEP.
  • Family notification and consent: Both plans require parent/guardian notification prior to a move, meeting, or assessment. Both also require consent. The IEP states that these must be in writing.
  • review requirements: An IEP must be reviewed annually and reassessed every three years. Most states follow these same 504 guidelines, but they can vary by state.
  • who believes that: 504 is less specific about required team members.
  • written document: The IEP has to be a written document, while the 504 does not.
  • What's there:The 504 establishes which parties provide services and who ensures that the plan is carried out. An IEP is more specific about the performance, goals, and timing of the child's services.

Who needs a 504 plan?

A 504 plan is for a child with a physical ormental health disabilitythat affects your daily activities. This includes physical impairments that affect the child's ability to stand, walk, breathe or eat. It can also imply an inability to communicate, concentrate or read.

While it is possible for a child to have both an IEP and a 504, it is uncommon for a child to have both. In general, an IEP is for a child who is falling behind academically. However, it can include many of the same features that a 504 plan does.

A 504 is available for children with disabilities who do not qualify for special education. These children may have a disability that needs help but have no difficulty keeping up with their learning or schoolwork.

Do children with chronic illnesses qualify?

Children with chronic illnesses such as asthma,paralisia cerebral,spina bifida, and most often qualify for a 504 plan.

What's in a 504 Plan?

504 is a section of a civil rights act called the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It helps to end discrimination against people with disabilities. A 504 is a proposal for how the school plans to help remove barriers for a child with a disability.

Adapting the physical environment is one way the school can help. This includes accommodations within a regular classroom or in a special education classroom.

For example, they can allow children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) sit in front of the class or take a test in a quiet place. For children with chronic illnesses such asdiabetes(a condition where the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body does not respond normally to insulin), the plan would allow them to see the school nurse several times a day. They may check your blood sugar level, receiveinsulin, or grab a snack to help with your blood sugar while you're there.

Other accommodations that may be in a 504 plan include:

  • modified textbooks
  • audiovisual resources
  • adjusted class schedule
  • verbal tests
  • Physicistooccupational therapy

Example of a 504 Plan

Below is an example 504 plan for a child who needs a wheelchair to help with mobility. They also have difficulty using utensils for eating or writing. This student does not require special education or an IEP as he learns and retains information well.

Here are some possible accommodations the school can make to help this child succeed:

  • The school nurse gives or supervises medication.
  • Assistive technology such as speech-to-text tools for doing homework
  • Provide brochures or notes in advance.
  • ramps and elevators
  • Assistance in transporting books.
  • Extra books that can be kept in the child's house
  • Help with the lunch tray.
  • Special utensils for eating or writing
  • Physical therapy
  • Educate students and teachers about their condition.

The evaluation process

The request for a 504 usually comes from a parent, caregiver, or teacher (with parental approval). After the application is made, a section 504 team determines the eligibility assessment. The 504 assessment is not as formal or time-consuming as an IEP.

Team members include those who know the student and understand the assessment criteria. Information that may be used includes:

  • medical records
  • educational record
  • classroom observations
  • Test results
  • behavior records
  • example of school work

This information helps the team understand the mental or physical disability that is causing difficulties for the child. The team decides whether the disability limits one or more activities of daily living and the degree of limitation.

what to expect

If you are the parent or guardian of a child being evaluated for a 504 plan, contact the school if you would like to be more involved. Although most schools will send you an invitation to the meeting, they are not required by law to do so.

Take notes on what you would like to share during the meeting. This helps give the team a better idea of ​​your child's strengths, weaknesses, interests and personality.

Once a plan is implemented, you can get involved by keeping copies of the plan and reports on your child's progress. Please communicate any questions or concerns you may have about your child's plan or progress.


A 504 plan is part of an anti-discrimination civil rights law called the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This plan provides resources for students with a mental or physical disability that affects their ability to perform activities of daily living. A 504 is provided at no additional cost for families.

While similar to an IEP, the 504 covers a broader range of eligible disabilities. The assessment process is comprehensive but is less formal than the IEP.

The 504 plan includes accommodations or services that the school can provide to help remove barriers to the student's ability to receive their education. Accommodations can include additional textbooks to keep at home, mobility assistance, seating at the front of the classroom, an adjusted class schedule, ramps or elevators, and more.

A Word from Verywell

As a parent or guardian, it can be difficult to ensure that your child is supported in overcoming disability-related barriers. A 504 is meant to be helpful and works best if you are involved as you know your child better than anyone else. If you feel that the accommodations are not helping, or feel that new or different accommodations are needed, please don't be shy to contact the team.

Best Colleges and Universities for Students with Disabilities

Common questions

  • Who Qualifies for a 504 Plan?

    Children qualify for a 504 when they have one or more mental or physical disabilities that make it difficult for them to carry out their daily activities.

  • How is a 504 plan different from an IEP?

    The 504 is covered under the anti-discrimination law, while the IEP is subject to the special education law. An IEP is typically for children who are falling behind academically. A 504 helps children with disabilities overcome barriers that affect their ability to attend school and receive an education.

  • What does a 504 plan cover?

    The 504 is designed for students with a physical or mental disability that causes problems with one or more functions of daily activities. This includes education in a regular classroom with accommodations or in a special education classroom.

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Verywell Health only uses high quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. read ourpublishing processto learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.Frequently asked questions about Section 504 and the education of children with disabilities.

  2. Fundación Nemours/KidsHealth.org.504 Education Plans.

  3. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 Plans.

  4. Fundación Nemours/KidsHealth.org.504 education plans.

  5. Utah State School System.Examples of Disabilities and Accommodations.

  6. Pennsylvania State Education Association.504 accommodation guide.

504 plan: overview, process and what to expect (2)

ForBrandi Jones, MSN-ED RN-BC
Brandi is a registered nurse and the owner of Brandi Jones LLC. She specializes in health and wellness writing, including blogging, articles, and education.

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