Are you headed to college or university in the fall?  Congratulations!  You’ve worked hard to get this far, and you should be proud.

Funny….how come pride feels like a fluttery stomach?  Well, you’re transitioning, which will always lead to feelings of discomfort mixed with excitement.  Normal!

For students with learning issues, there’s probably more discomfort than excitement.  Are these the thoughts in your head: “Will the school know about my IEP?”   “Will they “get” me as a learner?”  “How do I get help?”

Relax! The colleges and universities have fantastic support for students with IEPs.  You might not get everything that’s on your current IEP, but at the very least, you can expect extra time, computers and a quiet testing site.

Have a look at the University of Guelph’s site,

Here’s Conestoga College’s site:

See?  There’s lots of help for you!

Next step…

AS SOON AS YOU HAVE ACCEPTED YOUR OFFER OF ADMISSION, go to the website of your chosen school and find the Office for Students with Special Needs.  It could be the Office for Students with Disabilities, or Learning Services or Accessibility Services — you’ll have to find out the proper name. Call them, and ask for an appointment.

When you go to your appointment, TAKE YOUR IEP WITH YOU.  The person you meet will read your IEP and ask you some questions.  They will look at your most recent psycho-educational assessment.  They may ask you to have another one done,


They will tell you about some funding that is available to you.

1.  The Bursary for Students with Disabilities (BSWD)  This is for students, full-time and part-time, with either permanent or temporary disabilities who have disability-related educational costs for services or equipment that are not covered by another agency or service and are required for post-secondary participation.  It is up to $2000 per academic year. THIS IS MONEY YOU CAN USE TO PAY FOR A PSYCHO-EDUCATIONAL ASSESSMENT!

2.  The Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities  Up to $8000 per academic year, you are eligible if you:

  • – apply and qualify for a Canada Student Loan; are enrolled in a full-time or part-time program (minimum of 32 weeks) at a designated post-secondary institution;
  • – meet the criteria for a student with permanent disabilities; and include one of the following with your loan application as proof of your disability: a medical certificate, a psycho-educational assessment, or documentation proving receipt of federal or provincial disability assistance.

Then, attend one of the Transition days that the schools offer.  You don’t have to go to your chosen school — for example, you can attend Conestoga’s PASS program even though you will be at Georgian College in the fall.  They all involve a few days and nights on campus.  You will experience staying in residence, eating from the meal plan, navigating the library and spend a lot of time with your case manager, planning for your success.  Here’s a short list of some schools that have transition programs:


And remember the words of the immortal Dr. Suess:

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go, Random House, 1990