Education Series: IEPs and 504 Plans – What’s the Difference?

If you have concerns about a child’s access to education services you can contact us to speak with an attorney free of charge.


All students eligible under the IDEA are also protected by Section 504, but the reverse is not true. A student with diabetes or other medical condition who needs frequent medical monitoring to participate in school, but who does not otherwise need specialized instruction or other modifications, would be eligible for a 504 Plan but not an IEP.

The IDEA contains rights and protections (including procedural safeguards) for students with IEPs and their parents or guardians, rights that are not granted to students with 504 plans. Because of these legal protections, IEPs may be seen as more ‘burdensome’ for a school district to implement. This can result in students being pushed towards a 504 plan when they actually qualify for an IEP.

Additional Resources


We provide information, advice, and legal representation in several areas involving children’s education including special education, school discipline and the unlawful use of restraint and seclusion.


Disability Rights Center – New Hampshire is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating barriers for people with disabilities across New Hampshire. DRC is the federally designated protection and advocacy agency for New Hampshire and has authority under federal law to conduct investigations in cases of probable abuse or neglect.

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