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In the early twenty-first century, the numbers of students with disabilities successfully completing elementary and secondary school (among other improvements for this population) is largely due to the implementation of the IDEA, which increased access for many students with disabilities to the regular education classroom with the necessary special education and related services supports these children need to prepare for postsecondary education.

The success of children with disabilities in primary education inevitably led to their desire to attend colleges and universities.

Increasing numbers of children with disabilities are, in fact, entering postsecondary educational institutions.

The protections and services afforded to children with disabilities do not cross over to higher education.

However, two federal civil rights laws specifically apply to colleges and universities; these are the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

Before the end of the 1970s, there were only a small number of colleges and universities that provided access for students with disabilities.

One in eleven first-time, full-time freshmen entering college in 1998 reported having a disability. The numbers of students with disabilities transitioning from high school to higher education is expected to increase even more in the decades to come because of increased implementation of federal laws.

The protections and considerable modifications and services available under the IDEA to children with disabilities in primary education do not extend to education beyond the secondary level.

The IDEA only applies to children with disabilities determined eligible for special education and related services from birth through their twenty-first birthday, and its protections and services end when the child leaves secondary school–either through aging-out or graduating with a regular high school diploma.The IDEA is not, however, a basic civil rights statute, but rather an educational eligibility program for children with disabilities who are determined eligible for services under the IDEA. However, with the passage of the first federal eligibility program providing funding for special education and related services, more children with disabilities were integrated into regular classroom environments. More than one million of these children were excluded from the public school system and did not go through the educational process with their nondisabled peers. de la Teja Before the 1970s, more than half of the children with disabilities in the United States did not receive appropriate educational services that would enable them to have full equality of opportunity.This federal program, now entitled the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), ensures educational opportunities for children with disabilities in public elementary and secondary schools.