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Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 Plans are both crucial programs to help K-12 students with disabilities who need specialized education get the support they need in school. Students’ rights to IEPs are protected under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and 504 Plans are protected under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a federal civil rights law that ensures a person cannot be discriminated against because of their disability. 

While there are many similarities between the two programs, there are also key differences that are important for families seeking support in school to know.


IEPs support more than 7 million students in the U.S. for no cost to students or families. Students must have one or more of the 13 disabilities listed in the IDEA and their disabilities must affect their ability to learn in school. IEPs are basically, exactly what the name indicates: a plan for a student’s individualized learning experience at school. IEPs are designed to meet a student’s unique needs. They target specific learning outcomes and lay out what accommodations are needed to meet the goals outlined in the IEP. These IEPs must be made by the IEP team, which includes a child’s parent or caregiver, a special education teacher, a school psychologist or other specialist, and a district representative.

504 Plans 

Around 2.3 percent of students in the U.S. have 504 Plans also at no cost to students or families. 504 Plans are meant to provide support and accommodations for students with disabilities, but they do not include specific goals or objectives. Sometimes, students who do not qualify for an IEP do qualify for a 504 Plan. These plans are also made by a team of people close with the student, but who specifically is on it is less strict than who is required to be on an IEP team. 

The skilled team of attorneys at Kennedy Hunt PC are experts in education law and champions for students with disabilities. If you or your child need support with your educational rights, we may be able to help you. Fill out a questionnaire so we can understand your claim.