A 504 plan can offer kids support and in school. But there are many misconceptions about these plans. Here are six common myths about 504 plans — and the facts to bust them.
Myth #1: A 504 plan is the same as an IEP.
Fact: Both 504 plans and can help kids thrive in school. But they’re covered by different laws and work differently. The point of a 504 plan is to give a child equal access to learning at school. An IEP, on the other hand, is focused on special education services. Here’s a chart on the differences between 504 plans and IEPs.
Myth #2: A 504 plan isn’t as good as an IEP.
Fact: A good plan is the one that fits a child’s needs. A child with severe learning challenges probably needs special education through an IEP. But another child who's doing OK in school may only need certain accommodations through a 504 plan. And some kids, even kids who learn and think differently, don’t need a formal plan at all.
Myth #3: A 504 plan can only give accommodations, not services.
Fact: Some people think that a 504 plan can’t include services. But that’s not true. The U.S. Department of Education says a 504 plan can include school services. For example, some 504 plans offer things like speech therapy or study skills classes. It’s less common, though. And the services a 504 plan offers may not be the same as those available in an IEP.
Myth #4: Students can’t get 504 accommodations for advanced or AP classes.
Fact: There are many kids with 504 plans who are in advanced or AP classes. Kids who learn and think differently can even be gifted. A child with a 504 plan in an advanced class has the same rights as in other classes — the right to equal access to learning. This may mean accommodations, like text-to-speech technology or extra time for assignments.
Myth #5: 504 plans are for kids with ADHD.
Fact: 504 plans are not just for one type of challenge or difficulty. Some kids with 504 plans have ADHD. Some have learning disabilities. Others may have severe allergies, trouble with mobility, or other challenges. Keep in mind, too, that some kids with ADHD are eligible for IEPs, not just 504 plans.
Myth #6: There are 504 plans in college.
Fact: There are no IEPs or 504 plans in college. Students who qualify do have the right to accommodations in college. But it won’t be through a 504 plan. Colleges also have different requirements for getting accommodations. And in college, students (not the school) are responsible for asking for the accommodations.
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About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.
Andrew M.I. Lee, JD is an editor and attorney who strives to help people understand complex legal, education, and parenting issues.