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Information for Prospective Students

We understand that the quality of disability services provided at Cornell University is an important factor as you make an informed college choice. To help answer your many questions about the admissions and accommodations processes, we have compiled Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Students with answers to the questions we hear the most.

If you have further questions, we are happy to answer general questions about our services. Please contact our office at 607-254-4545 or visit us when you are on campus at 420 Computing & Communications Center.

Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Students

Does Cornell University provide services for students with disabilities?

Is there a separate admissions procedure for students with disabilities?

I have been diagnosed with a disorder/condition. Will I automatically be granted accommodations?

Should I send my disability documentation with my application?

I have been admitted to Cornell. When do I register with Student Disability Services?

What documentation is required to receive disability services?

Who at the university will know about my disability if I register with SDS?

Is there a deadline for submitting disability documentation?

What happens after my disability documentation is approved?

Are tutoring services available?

Is there a fee for Disability Services?

What accommodations and services will I be eligible for?

Is there financial aid or scholarships specifically for disabled students?

What other services are available for students with disabilities?

Where can I find additional resources on the transition to college?

Does Cornell University provide services for students with disabilities?

Yes, accommodations and services are provided for students with documented disabilities to provide equal access to educational programs and services in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990 as amended in 2008) and Cornell policy. Student Disability Services (SDS) facilitates the provision of services and accommodations for students. Accommodations are determined on an individual basis using disability documentation and in consultation with the student.

Is there a separate admissions procedure for students with disabilities?
No, the admissions process and criteria are the same for all students applying to Cornell. Disability status will not be a consideration in admissions decisions.

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I have been diagnosed with a disorder/condition. Will I automatically be granted accommodations?
A diagnosis alone does not qualify you for accommodations. You must document the existence of an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, the current impact of your impairment and how it affects your ability to function in an academic setting, and a rationale and objective basis for the requested accommodations.

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Should I send my disability documentation with my application?
No, documentation should be submitted to SDS only after you have been admitted to the University. Information provided to Gannett Health Services will not be shared with SDS unless requested by the student.

I have been admitted to Cornell. When do I register with Student Disability Services?
The Request for Disability Services and Accommodations Form is available on line at the New Students web site, which is expected to be available on April 1st: newstudents.cornell.edu. To request accessible on-campus housing, this form and disability documentation should be submitted to SDS by May 15th for first-year students and July 1st for transfer students and graduate students (or as early as possible after notification of admission). All other disability requests and documentation should be received by July 12th to facilitate the timely provision of accommodations approved by SDS.

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What documentation is required to receive disability services?
Documentation must be current and comprehensive. There are established guidelines for documenting disabling conditions. Please refer to the SDS web site at sds.cornell.edu or call SDS at 607-254-4545 for more information about documentation guidelines.

Please note that eligibility guidelines and accommodations may differ from your high school or other colleges you have attended. An Individualized Education Plan or 504 Plan alone is not sufficient documentation.

Who at the university will know about my disability if I register with SDS?
The accommodation process requires disclosure of the disability status of the student to faculty and staff in order to adapt courses, equipment or facilities to ensure equal access. SDS recognizes the right of the student to determine who receives disability-related information and the right to confidentiality of this information. This information is not stored in the central student database.

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Is there a deadline for submitting disability documentation?
In order for SDS to facilitate approved accommodations at the start of the academic year, students are encouraged to submit documentation at least four months in advance. Incoming freshmen who are requesting accessible housing should submit documentation prior to May 15th; transfer students requesting accessible housing should have documentation to SDS by July 1st.

What happens after my disability documentation is approved?
SDS will send a confirmation letter that your documentation has been approved. Students must meet with a Disability Services staff person to discuss your individual needs and discuss accommodation procedures before accommodations will be provided.

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Are tutoring services available?
The Learning Strategies Center (LSC) in the CLT provides free writing assistance as well as walk-in tutoring for a number of courses to all students. Study skills workshops and courses that support learning are also available. For more information about learning support available through the LSC, visit their web site at lsc.sas.cornell.edu

Is there a fee for Disability Services?
Students are responsible for aids or assistance of a personal nature such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, computers to be used at home or attendants for services of a personal nature including assistance with bathing or dressing or life coaching.

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What accommodations and services will I be eligible for?
Cornell is required to provide appropriate academic adjustments necessary to ensure it does not discriminate on the basis of a disability. These accommodations may differ from those provided previously. Accommodations frequently used by students with disabilities are extended time for test taking, a quiet location for test taking, print materials in alternate formats, housing accommodations, and assistive listening devices. Appropriate reasonable accommodations are determined on an individual basis using current and comprehensive disability documentation.

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Is there financial aid or scholarships specifically for disabled students?
The purpose of financial aid is to help students and families meet educational expenses that cannot be met through their own resources. Financial aid can be either need-based or non-need-based. The results of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) along with the cost-of-education will determine whether or not a student has financial need. Costs related to disabling conditions may affect your financial need but having a disability does not qualify a student automatically for financial aid. Priority consideration is given to applications received before February 1.

The office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) is an agency under the New York State Education Department that provides financial and advocacy support for persons with disabilities for the purpose of gaining full employment. To locate your local ACCES-VR office visit http://www.acces.nysed.gov/vr/ or call 1-800-222-5627.

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What other services are available for students with disabilities?
Many services are available on campus that assists students with disabilities, as found on our Resources web page. The list below is just an example of some of the services available.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provides a variety of counseling services including individual counseling, group therapy, counseling on issues regarding drug and alcohol use and eating disorders. CAPS is in Gannett Health Service, at 607-255-5208. http://www.gannett.cornell.edu/services/counseling/

Cornell Libraries have adaptive equipment such as Jaws, ZoomText, Dragon Naturally Speaking and CCTV’s for use by all students. The libraries will make arrangements to assist with individual concerns regarding access to the library stacks and book retrieval.

Transportation assistance is available through SDS. Our staff will meet with you to discuss the available options that meet your needs. Options include free bus passes, CULIFT para-transit shuttle and permission to purchase an accessible("handicapped") parking pass.

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Where can I find additional resources on the transition to college?
For more information on the transition to college, visit the following web sites:

From the Postsecondary Disability Consortium of Central New York: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/consortium/Index.cfm

From the Western New York Collegiate Consortium: www.ccdanet.org/ecp/

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights:

Going to College: A resource for teens with disabilities, from the Virginia Commonwealth University: http://www.going-to-college.org/

University of Washington DO-IT Program (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking & Technology): www.washington.edu/doit/Resources/college_prep.html