Skip to content Skip to navigation
Skip to global navigation Menu

Information for Prospective Students

Vassar College offers equal educational opportunities and reasonable accommodations for the needs of qualified students with disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. Vassar seeks to enroll students of proven academic ability who present evidence of personal achievement, motivation, and potential as evidenced by their academic record, essays, letters of recommendation, and out-of-class involvement. Standardized test scores are also reviewed, as an indicator of academic aptitude, and Vassar accepts scores from nonstandard administrations of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), as approved and administered by the College Entrance Examination Board. Individuals with disabilities who apply for admission are considered in the same manner as any other applicant. Vassar College encourages and gives full consideration to applicants for admission, financial aid, and employment without regard to race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, veterans status, or disability.

While Vassar makes no pre-admission inquiry about an applicant’s disability, prospective students are welcome to contact the director of the Office for Accessibility and Educational Opportunity (AEO) for information. You are also encouraged to visit the campus to learn more about our academic programs, tour our beautiful campus, sit in on a class, stay overnight in a dorm, or take an online tour. Student guided public tours of the campus are offered by the Admissions Office Monday through Friday throughout the year. Please contact the Office of Admissions to schedule a tour or to receive more information.

Disability Rights and Responsibilities: High School vs. College

The key to a successful transition from high school to college is to anticipate and be prepared for the differences between the two settings. In addition to dealing with the same transition issues that all students face, students with disabilities have the added challenge of changes in how support services are requested and arranged. In college students play a more active role and assume more responsibility. The chart below compares the legal rights and responsibilities in high school versus those in college.

The Differences Between Secondary and Post-Secondary Disability Laws


Secondary (high school)

Postsecondary (college)

What is the law?

Idea and section 504

Ada and section 504 (subpart e)

What is the intent of the law?

Idea: to provide a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment for students with disabilities.

504: to ensure that no otherwise qualified person with a disability is denied access to, benefits of, or is subjected to discrimination in any program or activity provided by any public institution or entity.

To ensure that no otherwise qualified person with a disability will be denied access to, or the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination by any program or activity provided by any public institution or entity.

Who is covered under the law?

All infants, children, and youth requiring special education services until age 21 or graduation from high school.

All qualified individuals with disabilities who meet the entry age criteria or particular program entry criteria of the college and who can document the existence of a disability as defined by the ADA.

Who is responsible for identifying and documenting the need?

School districts are responsible for identifying, evaluating, and planning educational services at no expense to the parent.

Students are responsible for self- identification and for obtaining disability documentation from a professional who is qualified to assess their particular disability. The student, not the institution, assumes the cost of the evaluation.

Who is responsible for enforcing the law?

IDEA is basically a funding statute, enforced by the Office for Special Education and Rehabilitation Services in the U.S. Department of Education.

ADA/504 are civil rights statutes, enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), U.S. Department of Justice, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC.)

Section 504 (Subpart E) is a civil rights statute enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), U.S. Department of Education.

The ADA is also a civil rights statute enforced by the U. S. Department of Justice, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

What about self-advocacy?

The parent or guardian is the primary advocate. Students with disabilities should learn about their disability, the importance of self- advocacy, the accommodation(s) they need, and ways to become a self-advocate.

Students must be able to communicate what their disability is, their strengths, weaknesses how the disability impacts and functionally limits major life activities. They must be able to identify and justify any requested accommodations.

Source: Kay McVey, Faculty Development Specialist, PROJECT CONNECT, Henderson State University