Secretary DeVos Makes Clear Federal Funds can be Used to Support Dual Enrollment, Postsecondary Options for Students and Youth with Disabilities

U.S. Department of Education Press Release
Date: Sep. 17, 2019
Contact: Press Office
(202) 401-1576 or

WASHINGTON— U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today made clear that vocational rehabilitation (VR) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds can be used to support dual enrollment, comprehensive transition and other postsecondary education programs for students and youth with disabilities. The Department produced a question and answer (Q&A) guide after the Secretary heard from the field there was confusion about whether and when these funds could be used to help students and youth with disabilities access these valuable educational options.

“All students deserve the freedom to pursue an education that is challenging and allows them to reach their full potential,” said Secretary DeVos. “I hope this information will make clear what the law says and serve as a resource to families, Individualized Education Program (IEP) Teams and State VR agencies as they continue to collaborate and find ways to increase postsecondary opportunities – and success – for students and youth with disabilities.”

Issued jointly by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE), the Q&A document describes how State educational agencies, local educational agencies, and State VR agencies may coordinate to assist students and youth with disabilities, including students and youth with intellectual disabilities, in preparing for postsecondary success. The document reinforces the appropriate use of funds under the IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

The Q&A will be released today by Johnny Collett, Assistant Secretary for OSERS, at an Education Freedom Tour stop at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) . While at UMKC, Assistant Secretary Collett will visit the Propel Program, a transition program for young adults with intellectual developmental disabilities that allows students an opportunity to explore employment and education on a major university campus.

“The Department is committed to ensuring that students and youth with disabilities are held to high expectations and have the resources and supports needed to expand their learning opportunities and prepare them for success in postsecondary education or careers,” said Collett.

Specifically, the Q&A addresses the following topics:

  • The opportunity for students with disabilities to enroll in postsecondary education programs while still in high school;
  • The opportunity for students and youth with disabilities to enroll in comprehensive transition and other postsecondary programs for individuals with disabilities after leaving high school;
  • The coordination of transition-related services that students with disabilities may receive under the IDEA and under the VR program; and
  • The financial aid available to students with disabilities enrolled in comprehensive transition and postsecondary education programs for students with intellectual disabilities offered at Institutions of Higher Education under the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.

The full Q&A is available here: Link

View OSERS Rethink Framework here


Last modified on September 19, 2019

OSERS announces new OSEP director

By the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

WASHINGTON (Oct. 11, 2018) – The Department of Education announced the appointment of a new special education programs’ director today.

Laurie VanderPloeg will lead the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services’ (OSERS) Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) starting in November.

“My focus will be on developing and supporting an effective system that is going to meet the unique and individual needs of children with disabilities,” VanderPloeg said. “We need to look at the structures we have in place to ensure that each child is prepared for success.”

VanderPloeg started her career as a high school special education teacher at Wayland Union Schools in Wayland, Michigan.

She spent 15 years teaching high school and middle school students prior to earning her master’s degree in special education administration from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Since earning her master’s, VanderPloeg has served as the supervisor of special education for the Grand Rapids Public School District, a special education consultant with the Michigan Department of Corrections, and most recently as the director of special education for Kent Intermediate School District.

Learn more about Laurie VanderPloeg

Last modified on October 11, 2018