Student Services Standards

Student Services Standard 1:

The admission policies and practices ensure that all students who are admitted meet the definition of “students with intellectual disabilities” in the HEA law and regulations.


Institutions must adhere to the statutory and regulatory requirements regarding the definition of a student with an intellectual disability (ID) in order to be accredited and must document that it enrolls students who meet the ID definition in HEA. If the educational records for a student being considered for admission do not identify the student as having an intellectual disability, then the institution must obtain documentation establishing that the student has an ID such as: (1) a documented comprehensive and individualized psychoeducational evaluation and diagnosis of an intellectual disability by a psychologist or other qualified professional; or (2) a record of the disability from a local or state educational agency, or government agency, such as the Social Security Administration or a vocational rehabilitation agency, that identifies the intellectual disability.

Documentation of the student meeting the HEA ID definition must be retained for a period of seven years. See the glossary for the definition of students with intellectual disabilities in the HEA and the regulatory language that explains how to document an ID if the student has not been so identified in K–12.

Admissions requirements must not be so challenging that students with ID are unlikely to be admitted. Consider if your admission requirements are unlikely to be met by anyone with more than a mild ID or mild support needs. Note that admissions requirements that require students to be fully independent prior to admission are not acceptable, since supporting students in gaining independent living skills and abilities is one of the components of CTPs in the HEA.

Required for Review

  • Provide admission requirements and policies.

  • Provide a description of the admissions process, including the complete application for students and details about any required in-person portion of the process, if one exists.

  • Provide information about the documentation used to determine that the student has an ID.

  • Provide assurance that documentation records are retained for at least seven years.

Student Services Standard 2:

The program provides academic, employment, personal, and other advising and counseling, based on person-centered planning and individual interests and needs, and in collaboration with existing institutional services.


Students need ongoing advice, counsel, and support in all aspects of their program and postsecondary experience. This includes advice, counsel, and support for students who live in dormitories or other residential life settings, if students have that opportunity.

Required for Review

  • Describe the types of advising and counseling (e.g., academic, career, social, interpersonal, independent living, conflict resolution) students are provided, and how those services and supports are provided in collaboration with existing institutional services.

  • List who is providing each type of advising/counseling and how the individuals are trained and supervised, including in resident life settings, if any.

Student Services Standard 3:

Students and families are included in the institution’s general orientation programs and additional orientation is provided as needed.


Students and their families are included in general IHE orientation programs and the program may provide additional orientations for students and families as needed. Pre-arrival and ongoing orientation is provided (1) to support students in their adjustment to the program and institution and (2) to help them understand the program and institutions rules, policies, and procedures, and health and safety issues.

Students may include other supporters if they do not have families or if their families are not able to be involved.

Student Services Standard 4 addresses communication regarding Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and individual students.

Required for Review

  • Provide documentation regarding the orientation programs and activities in which students participate, including documentation that students participate in the general IHE orientation.

Student Services Standard 4:

General information regarding the institution and the program is communicated to students and families on an ongoing basis. The program has a stated process for family engagement and communication that reflects clearly defined roles and responsibilities for students, families, and staff.


General information about the institution and the program is provided on a regular basis to students and families. The program also shares a written process to engage and communicate with families that clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of students, families and staff. Students and families are informed in plain language about requirements in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), student control over parental involvement, and the option for students to waive FERPA requirements and how to do so.

Students who do not have families and students whose families are not able to be involved can designate other supporters to provide such general information.

Required for Review

  • Provide information about the ongoing communication regarding the institution and program that is provided to students and families.

  • Provide the information that is given to students and families regarding the defined roles and responsibilities of students, parents, and staff.

  • Provide the plain language FERPA information that is shared with students and families and indicate how it is provided, including student control over parental involvement, and the option for students to waive FERPA requirements and how to do so. Information buried in large documents or a website link is not sufficient.

Student Services Standard 5:

Students in the program have access to services and social and recreational activities, consistent with other students with the same student status.


“Student status” refers to the status of the student in the institution, such as matriculating, degree, non-degree, certificate, or continuing education.

This standard addresses access to services, social activities, and recreational activities only. See Facility, Equipment, and Supply Standard 1 for access to facilities. Institutions are not able to require outside entities such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or fraternities or sororities to change their rules. Typically, fraternities and sororities require their members to be degree-seeking students. However, except in situations controlled by outside entities, students in the program must have, at a minimum, access to the same services, social, and recreational activities as students with the same student status.

If needed, support is provided so students may meaningfully access services and social and recreational activities. Programs may also provide services that supplement those provided by the institution.

Required for Review

  • Indicate the student status of the students in your program. If student status limits access, indicate how it does so.

  • Provide a checklist of the institution’s services, social activities, and recreational activities, and indicate which ones are accessible to students in the program.

  • Provide assurance that students in the program have student identification cards that provide access to all appropriate services and social and recreational activities.

Student Services Standard 6:

Individualized supports are provided to students designed to enable the students to seek and sustain competitive integrated employment (CIE). Supports are provided based on the student’s interests and person-centered plan.


One of the key goals of college programs for students with ID is to prepare students for employment. This employment, as described in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), is competitive work in integrated settings. Therefore, the supports must be individualized to meet the student’s career goals, as indicated in the student’s person-centered plan. See the glossary for definitions of WIOA and CIE.

Required for Review

  • Provide information about the program’s employment preparation/career activities and services.

  • Indicate how supports are individualized to meet students’ needs and career goals and provide redacted examples.

  • Provide data on employment outcomes for students after program completion.

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