Post-Secondary Education

Once your child graduates from high school, he/she will no longer have the services provided by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).  The Americans with Disabilities Act may be able to provide needed accommodations and modifications to students with disabilities at qualifying schools.

Planning Ahead

If your child is thinking about attending a postsecondary school after they graduation from high school, it is important to plan ahead in order to make the transition successful.  Begin the planning process while your child is still in high school.  Talk with the school guidance counselor to inquire about resources that may be of help, including possible financial aid for disability-related expenses.  For further reading -  PACER - Planning for Success in Postsecondary Education Takes Time and Organization.

Entrance exams are often required to attend a post-secondary school.  The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and American College Testing Assessment (ACT) help determine which classes will be the best fit for your child.  These tests are not used as a factor in determining admission to a school; however, schools may have other admission requirements.

A good resource for information is your child's current teachers along with the school's guidance counselor.  They may also be able to write letters of recommendation, if needed.

Section 504 accommodations and modifications are available for qualifying students attending post-secondary schools.

Choosing A School

It is important to choose a school based on your child's unique needs.  Consider the school's distance from home, the size of the school, programs that are offered, possible living arrangements, along with your child's educational interests, abilities, strengths and dreams.  You can request information on school programs from the admission officers at each school.

Parents can play an important role in helping their child find the perfect fit for them.  An article by The National Center on Secondary Education and Transition, Parenting Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities:  Becoming the Mentor, Advocate, and Guide Your Young Adult Needs, has information on how parents can help their child through the process.


Insight, a publication of Think College has written an article on funding entitled Federal Financial Aid For Students with Intellectual Disabilities.  It includes information on eligibility, kinds of federal aid available, frequently asked questions, as well as recommendations.

School Resources

Under the Americans with Disabilties Act (ADA), accommodations and modifications are available for qualifying students.  Many schools have support staff to help with these requests.  Accommodations are not automatic;  students must specifically request needed accommodations that are needed because of their disability.  Learning self advocacy skills are important so students can ask for needed accommodations.  More information on how to request accommodations:  PACER Center, Help Your Young Adult Learn About Accessing Accommodations After High School.

Need more information?

Insight - A Think College Brief on Policy, Research & Practice
Postsecondary Education and Employment Outcomes for Transition-age Youth With and Without Disabilities:  A Secondary Analysis of American Community Survey Data

PACER Center
ADA Questions & Answers:  Section 504 & Postsecondary Education

Institute for Community Inclusion
Postsecondary Education Opportunities for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

Specific information on post-secondary education for students with learning disabilities and ADHD
Learning Disabilities Online

Learning Disabilities Assocation of America has an information sheet on postsecondary educational options.
Learning Disabilities Assocation of America

Minnesota Life College is a not-for-profit, vocational and life skills training program for young adults with learning differences and autism spectrum disorders.  The program is for an underserved population -- a niche of young adults with more profound learning differences, who are considered too "high" for service but who have difficulties making their way in the real world.
Minnesota Life College

Think College focusses on research, training and technical assistance, and dissemination for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Think College

The Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) is the premiere professional assocation committed to full participation of persons with disabilities in postsecondary education.
Association on Higher Education and Disability

The HEATH Resource Center is an online clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities.
HEATH Resource Center

The National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET), headquartered at the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development, coordinates national resources, offers technical assistance, and disseminates information related to secondary education and transition for youth with disabilities in order to create opportunities for youth to achieve succesful futures. 
National Center on Secondary Education and Transition

The Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT) Center promotes the success of individuals with disabilities and the use of computer and networking technologies to increase their independence, productivity, and participation in education and careers.

TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) serves qualifying students already attending a college or university.  Participants, who include college students with disabilities, receive tutoring, counseling and remedial instruction.  Students are now being served at 930 colleges and universities nationwide.  Check the website for programs available in Minnesota.
TRIO Student Support Services