The education amendments of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 defines a free appropriate education as:
- Education provided by the public elementary or secondary school;
- Including general or special education instruction;
- Including related aids and services; and
- Being developed to meet the individual educational needs of students with disabilities.
Section 504's definition of appropriate education does have limits, however. Under Section 504, schools are only required to meet the needs of students with disabilities to the extent that typical, non-disabled students' needs are met. Consequently, Section 504 plans need not provide advantages to a child with a disability that would help them achieve over children without disabilities or have unfair advantages.
Schools are only required to provide services when there is a demonstrated need based on evaluation, placement, and procedural safeguard requirements.