What is a "qualified student with a disability"?

Date Updated

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states:

No otherwise qualified person with a disability in the United States…shall, solely by reason of…disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

Within this civil rights legislation, an individual with a disability is a person who has (1) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) interprets a “qualified student with a disability” at the elementary and secondary level to refer to a student with a disability who is "of an age at which students without disabilities are provided elementary and secondary educational services; of an age at which it is mandatory under state law to provide elementary and secondary educational services to student with disabilities; or a student to whom the state is required to provide a free appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)."

At the postsecondary level, OCR interprets a "qualified student with disability" to refer to a student with a disability "who meets the academic and technical standards requisite for admission or participation in the institution's educational program or activity."

For more information regarding the meaning of "qualified student with a disability" consult: