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Bonamici, Bucshon Introduce Legislation to Assist College-Bound Students with Disabilities

June 6, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC [06/06/17] - Today Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN) introduced legislation that will make it easier for students with disabilities to access special education services in college and earn a degree or credential.

When students with disabilities enroll in college, they and their families often pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for new evaluations to demonstrate a disability. The bipartisan Respond, Innovate, Support, and Empower (RISE) Act permits students to submit existing documentation of a disability, such as a 504 plan or an individualized education program (IEP), saving them money and simplifying the process for receiving accommodations on campus. Professionals in disability service offices will continue to work with students to develop academic accommodations that are appropriate for each student.

“Too many students with disabilities continue to face barriers to success in higher education,” said Congresswoman Bonamici, a leader on the House Education Committee. “When students transition from high school to higher education, they shouldn’t face hurdles when seeking the support they need. I am pleased to partner with Rep. Bucshon to advance commonsense, bipartisan legislation that will streamline the process for receiving accommodations in college. Ultimately, this will help more students get the support they need, earn a degree or credential, and enter the workforce with the skills to succeed.”

"For students with disabilities, the transition from high school to college can be difficult and overwhelming,” said Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D. “The RISE Act is an important step forward to ease this transition by making accommodations more accessible for students who need them and equipping families with the right resources. By removing the roadblocks in their way, we can help ensure students with disabilities have the opportunity to rise to their full potential.”

“The National Center for Learning Disabilities applauds Senator Casey, Senator Hatch, Senator Cassidy, Senator Hassan, Representative Bonamici and Representative Bucshon for listening to families across the nation and introducing the RISE Act, which will make college more accessible for the 1 in 5 individuals with learning and attention issues,” stated Mimi Corcoran, President & CEO, National Center for Learning Disabilities. “Importantly, the RISE Act closes a loophole that often requires college students with a documented disability to undergo new, costly diagnostic testing in college to be eligible for accommodations.  Not only will the RISE Act reduce this financial burden on students – and their families – but it will allow students and colleges to shift their focus to the important goal of promoting academic success.”

The RISE Act authorizes an increase in funding for the National Center for Information and Technical Support for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities. The technical assistance center disseminates information to students and families about the process for receiving accommodations in higher education, and it provides best practices for supporting students with disabilities to college and university faculty. The RISE Act also improves reporting on academic outcomes for students with disabilities. You can read a summary of the RISE Act here.

Students with disabilities are not as likely as other students to earn a college degree; according to the National Council on Disability, only about one-third of students with disabilities complete a four-year degree within eight years. More than 10 percent of undergraduate students report having a disability.

Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced the RISE Act in the Senate.