School, College and the 504 Plan Guide

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504 Plan

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 promises equal opportunity for Americans with disabilities. It guarantees accommodations in federally-funded programs and services. You can file a 504 Plan in public schools to arrange accommodations for your child with celiac disease.

Having a child with celiac disease poses unique challenges both for you and your child. The lifestyle changes – and how they are managed – that come with a diagnosis of celiac disease can be difficult during the school-age and college years. Celiac Disease Foundation has developed this Back-to-School and 504 Plan Guide to help you and your child transition safely through these changes. In this guide, we offer suggestions for age-appropriate ways of managing celiac disease and non-celiac wheat sensitivity at school and college to ensure good health, proper development, and academic success for your child.

Individuals with celiac disease have different needs at different times in their life. Because of these special needs, celiac disease is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This designation is particularly relevant in certain public establishments, like educational institutions, from pre-school to college. It is important to advocate for your child’s needs to ensure that you receive the resources and accommodations that are necessary for your child to live a healthy life and to thrive developmentally and socially.

If your child is in a public school system, or attends a private school that receives federal funds, a 504 Plan is the federally recognized method of detailing any and all accommodations that need to be made by the school to assure that a child with a disability receives an appropriate education. Section 504(a) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination in all institutions receiving federal financial assistance, including schools, on the basis of disability, including certain diseases. The law requires that these schools remove barriers to learning, which include accommodating a child’s gluten-free diet and disability needs.

Watch the Back-to-School and 504 Plan Webinar

Does My Child Need a 504 Plan?

Parents may not think a 504 Plan is necessary if their child does not seem to have barriers to learning at school or college, or if the school administration is accommodating their child’s needs. Know that without this document, however, any verbal conversation you have with teachers and administration does not legally need to be honored. A 504 Plan must be renewed annually and can remain in place throughout the years within a school district, making transitions between grade levels easier.

Download the Model 504 Plan

Download the 504 Plan Template

Kid-Friendly Breakfasts, Lunches, and Snacks

CDF dietitian Janelle Smith, MS, RD provides a 5 day recipe plan of nutritious and delicious, kid-friendly breakfasts and lunches, plus easy after-school snacks to make your days happier and healthier.

5 Days of Breakfasts and Lunches

Easy After-School Snacks

Become a Student Ambassador

Are you in elementary, middle, or high school? Do you want to raise awareness of celiac disease at your school and in your local community? The Celiac Disease Foundation Student Ambassador Program is for you! The Student Ambassador Program helps children and teens become role models for others with celiac disease while raising awareness in the community and educating their peers.

Learn about the Student Ambassador Program

Pediatric Health

Celiac disease may develop any time after wheat or other gluten containing foods are introduced into the diet, typically after 6-9 months of age. It is unknown why some children become ill early in life and others fall ill only after years of exposure.

Learn about Celiac Disease in Children

Complete the Symptoms Checklist

Additional Government Benefits

Tax Deductions

If you or one of your dependents has celiac disease and you itemize your deductions, the extra costs due to gluten-free dietary restrictions might be taken as a medical expense. In addition, you can deduct the cost of attending medical education conferences.

Learn About Tax Deductions


The U.S. government offers benefits to Americans whose disability directly causes absence from work for at least one year. This is a difficult requirement to meet for those with celiac disease as, theoretically, the gluten-free diet ensures a healthy lifestyle. However, for many people, it takes years to be diagnosed with celiac disease. If undiagnosed celiac disease prevented you from working for at least one year in the past, you may apply for benefits from that length of time.

Learn About Additional Government Benefits

The information on this website should not be used in any actual transaction without the advice and guidance of an attorney who is familiar with all the relevant facts. Although the information contained here is presented in good faith and believed to be correct, it is general in nature and is not intended as legal advice. Furthermore, the information contained herein may not be applicable to or suitable for the individual’s specific circumstances or needs and may require consideration of other matters.

Back-to-School and 504 Plan Guide

Back-to-School and 504 Plan Guide