How Do I Apply for a 504

Often, a teacher or principal will tell a parent that a child should have a 504.  What’s the next step?

We’re not going to explain the laws that set up the 504 in this post, but this post does a great job of telling you what a 504 is and how it protects your child.

If you think that your child needs a 504, this post is a guide to the information you need in order to make a decision, and directions for requesting a 504.

What does a 504 Plan do?

A 504 plan provides for accommodations, modifications, and support for your child. It’s commonly used to provide things like more time, the ability to type papers instead of handwrite them, or having a teacher read the test. In general, the 504 plan doesn’t include services like OT, although the law allows for it.

Your child’s 504 plan also includes the names of professionals who will provide the support. One person is responsible for making sure that the 504 plan is implemented.

We list examples of 504 accommodations in

How Does a Child Qualify for a 504?

To qualify for a 504, your child must have a disability that interferes with their major life activities, which includes reading and concentrating, and ability to learn or access school programs. Learning and attention issues often fall into this category. Your pediatrician can often write a letter telling the school that you need a 504. Sometimes teachers recommend that a child should have a 504.   And of course, as a parent, you can write a letter requesting that your child be given a 504 plan.

But Before You Apply for a 504, Consider This: You Might Need an IEP Instead of a 504

If your child has learning problems that prevent them from learning, please take a few minutes to read this post, which describes what a 504 is, and explains and describes benefits and disadvantages of both the  IEP and the 504.

It costs school districts far less money to have children with 504s than with IEPs, and many parents start with a 504, only to discover years later that they actually should have worked to get an IEP.


Don’t Get All of Your Information From a Teacher or School Administrator

Many school districts, for example, look people in the eye and tell them that dyslexics aren’t eligible for an IEP, even though the word “dyslexia” actually appears in the IDEA law.

Or schools routinely tell parents that they’ve never heard of dysgraphia or dyscalculia. Some schools tell parents that ADHD children aren’t eligible for support. And other schools tell parents that their child has to receive F’s for two years.


A big reason to ask for an IEP first, with full testing, is that it is a broader evaluation of your child, and LDs are hard to diagnose. It’s a good idea to have your child tested fully if you see real problems with learning in the classroom.

Too many parents report waiting for three, four, five years to ask for an IEP, and in the meantime, their child was just given less work, instead of being taught properly. Being given less work doesn’t necessarily help a child learn. Accommodations work when they’re accompanied by appropriate teaching.

It doesn’t hurt anything, and you lose absolutely nothing by applying for an IEP instead of a 504.  If, after screening, the school doesn’t want to give your child an IEP, they can easily have a 504.

Often, if a child is tested for an IEP and doesn’t qualify, the child will be offered a 504 as a kind of “consolation prize.” While a 504 might provide valuable help, if you strongly believe that your child should qualify for an IEP, experienced parents strongly suggest that you keep fighting.

Most experts counsel parents to strongly consider applying for an IEP if their child’s disability in any way falls within the qualifications. While some districts will easily give out a 504 plan, other districts will not, and

The 504 process doesn’t include any goals that the school must meet in educating your child. It also doesn’t include the protections provided by the IEP process.

The most straightforward way to request a 504 plan is to write a letter requesting a 504 and give it to the principal. In the letter, include descriptions of the problems that your child has learning, and any diagnoses that you have. Include the words: “I request a 504 plan for my child.” After receiving the letter, the school calls a 504 meeting. When you attend the 504 meeting, you can bring examples of your child’s work. Unlike the IEP meetings, where you must attend, the law doesn’t require or guarantee your attendance at 504 meetings.

Each district may have a different process for applying for a 504, so it’s a good idea to go to your school district’s website and see if there are specific directions.


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