Accommodations for College

For many, attending college is one of life's important milestones, and a big step towards building the future you want. Having cystic fibrosis doesn't mean you can't pursue your academic goals and dreams, but a new environment can present new obstacles and challenges.

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Summary
  • Many people with cystic fibrosis may need permissions, services, or changes from their school to maintain their health.
  • There are laws designed to protect the rights of people with CF to ensure medical needs are met in college.

As you prepare for and attend college, you may need to ask for special permissions, services, or changes from your school to help maintain your health. Examples include having a single room in college or being allowed to park your car close to an entrance. There are laws that protect your rights and ensure your medical needs are met while at college. Your CF care team can help you learn more about the rights of students with CF and how to work with your school.

Protections Under the Law

Colleges, universities, vocational training centers and other places of higher education that get federal funds are covered by Section 504 and cannot refuse to admit a qualified student solely because the student has a disability or chronic medical condition, like CF. Most colleges and universities have an Office for Students with Disabilities that can help you or your child get needed accommodations. If a school of higher education has no such office, there should be someone in the school's administration who can help you obtain accommodations because of a disability. Contact your school to learn about help available for students with disabilities.

Asking for Accommodations

You also can meet with someone at the school to talk about your concerns. You do not have to tell the school that you or your child has CF, but you will need to tell them about CF if you request accommodations that you or your child needs because of the disease.

When asking for accommodations, get a written agreement with the school that lists the changes that need to be made. You may request an accommodation from the school at any time. If you or your child leaves home to attend school, contact the CF care center nearest to the school at the beginning of the school year so they can help you with any treatment or health problems during the year. Don't be shy about asking for these accommodations. Having the accommodations will help you have a better college experience.

Your CF care team can help you determine the necessary accommodations and work with the school as needed.

Hear other students with CF talk about how they've been able to manage their disease while still participating in college life.

Accommodations That May be Requested When Living at School

  1. Provide student certain type of dorm room, like a private room, or room with private bathroom or air conditioning, if needed because of health.
  2. Change the student's required number of class hours per semester. However, this change could affect the student's health insurance coverage.
  3. Change class attendance rules, giving the student additional options like taking classes online or via video, etc.
  4. Change student's physical education requirements.
  5. Plan to change project due dates or test dates if student is absent due to illness.
  6. Plan to give student notes from class or an audio recording of the class if absent due to illness.
  7. Give student a chance to finish coursework after the course has ended, if much of the semester was missed due to illness.
  8. Give on-campus housing or parking.

What to do If Requested Accommodations are Denied

If you cannot get changes from a college, university or vocational school, you can file a complaint with the school. Your CF care team can assist with this process. You also can report violations of Section 504 to the U.S. Office for Civil Rights.

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