Reasonable Extension of Assignment Deadlines

Reasonable Extension of Assignment Deadlines 

 Federal law requires colleges and universities to consider reasonable modification of syllabus policies and deadlines if needed to accommodate a student’s disability. Students with disabilities covered under this accommodation typically experience conditions that are chronic or episodic in nature, which may then impact their ability to devote sufficient time to assignment(s). Strict assignment deadlines and punitive grading on late assignments may prevent them from demonstrating their full mastery of class content. The Center for Educational Access (CEA) has documentation of the disability on file and the student is NOT required to present the professor with medical documentation verifying the need for deadline extension.  This accommodation does not apply to missed coursework for non-disability related reasons (ex: seasonal illness).  It is also NOT intended to provide unlimited extensions nor be automatically applied to all homework/assignments/projects, as each course has its own unique design and learning outcomes.  However, it should be provided unless the accommodation threatens the integrity of the course as offered. 

We frequently receive questions inquiring how to reasonably implement this accommodation in courses without compromising the integrity of the course as it is offered. Below is some additional information/guidance on how to: determine what extensions are reasonable, faculty & student roles regarding accommodation implementation, and associated limitations. If questions/concerns arise after reviewing the additional information below, please contact the CEA at or 479-575-3104.  

How to Accommodate Reasonable Extensions of Assignment Deadlines 

This accommodation requires careful consideration and an open dialogue between the student, instructor, and CEA. To assist in facilitating such discussions faculty are strongly encouraged to complete the Deadline Modification Plan for their course(s) to then be shared with and reviewed with eligible students in the course.  This fillable form is used to outline the accommodation's parameters by course  such as the maximum time frame for students to submit missed homework/assignments, how the assignment will be submitted, and specifies which assignments this accommodation may be reasonably applied to.

  • The Deadline Modification Plan should be completed at the beginning of the semester or as soon as faculty receive a student's accommodation letter with this accommodation. Upon receipt of the student providing their official accommodation letter, faculty are responsible for initiating discussion & providing students with a copy of the deadline modification plan. 

  • Students are responsible for notifying faculty of their accommodation eligibility via the official accommodation letter and  notifying instructors when extension is needed due to disability, either directly or through a CEA staff member. 

  • Faculty only need to submit one form per course (or 1 per course section, if your syllabus policies vary between sections), to be used for each student with this accommodation in that course/section. However, as accommodations should be considered on an individual basis, students may follow up with you with questions or contact the CEA should they need an individualized deadline modification plan.

Evaluating the Role of Class Participation

The number of days given for each assignment extension depends on the interactive or participatory nature of a course, or is based on department, college or accrediting agency rules. Faculty are encouraged to consider the questions below to determine what is reasonable for their course. 

  1. What does the class description and syllabus say about assignment deadlines or late work?

  2. How is the final class grade calculated? To what extent are assignments factored into the final grade? Are there any alternative grading schemes for assignments (i.e. one assignment grade may be dropped, etc)?

  3. Are assignment deadline policies consistently applied? (i.e.., Have any exceptions made to the policy for non-disabled students, such as for athletic travel or religious observances? If so, then these exceptions must also be granted to students with disabilities.)

  4. What is the purpose of the assignment? Is it necessary to have it completed before an exam? Before a discussion?

  5. Is the material being learned in the class sequentially? Does each week’s material build on the material learned in the previous week(s)? (This may shorten the window of time in which an extension can reasonably be granted.)

  6. Are assignments used as class content when they are due? Are students required to actively participate in class discussions/activities based off of the assignment? (e.g. problem sets reviewed as the first lecture on that content)

Limitations of Reasonable Extensions of Assignment Deadlines Accommodation

  • Unlimited extensions are often unreasonable and this accommodation may not be reasonable for all courses and/or for all assignments. However, instructors may not deny an accommodation without first consulting with the CEA.

  • Use of this accommodation is not permitted for non-disability related reasons (ex: seasonal illness) and disabilities not documented by the CEA. The class policy regarding late work (i.e.-deduction of points) will remain applicable even to students with this accommodation if they miss deadlines for other non-disability related reasons.

  • Accommodations are not retroactive.  Instructors are not obligated to apply this accommodation to previous penalties that were incurred prior to receiving official notice via the student's accommodation letter. 


CEA Staff are happy to consult with faculty and academic departments to determine a reasonable deadline modification plan and address any questions/concerns regarding the use and limitations of this accommodation. Contact the CEA via email ( or phone (479-575-3104) - we are here to help!