Deferral of Receipt of the Standard Diploma

All students enrolled in Florida public schools work towards earning a standard diploma. However, certain students with disabilities may need to extend enrollment in a school district past the time they meet graduation requirements in order to continue to receive supports and services under free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Deferring receipt of a standard diploma is a process facilitated by an individual education plan (IEP) team that permits eligible students with disabilities an opportunity to continue FAPE (up through age 21 as determined by school districts) once students meet graduation requirements for a standard diploma. Per section 1003.4282(11)(c), Florida Statutes (F.S.), there are two essential parts to deferral eligibility:

  1. The student must have an IEP that “prescribes special education, transition planning, transition services, or related services through 21.” This means that, because of the disability, a student must need continued education and services.
  2. The student must be enrolled in one of several specific programs listed in the chart below. 

Program Type

Program Description

Accelerated College Credit Programs

Per s. 1007.27(1), F.S., Accelerated College Credit Programs includes dual enrollment and early admission, advanced placement, credit by examination, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program and the Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) program. Available courses and programs for dual enrollment will vary by school districts. Accelerated college credit programs often have rigorous eligibility requirements, such as GPA.

Early College Programs

Structured high school acceleration programs on which a cohort of students is enrolled full-time in postsecondary courses that earn credit toward an associate degree. Courses applicable as general education core courses must be prioritized under s. 1007.25, F.S. for an associate degree or s. 1007.272, F.S. for a baccalaureate degree.

Industry Certification Courses Leading to College Credit

Available courses and programs for industry certification will vary by school district and may have eligibility requirements.

Earn Scholar Designation

Enables students to continue working on requirements needed to earn a Scholar diploma designation.

Structured Work-Study, Internships or Pre-Apprenticeships

Programs that prepare students for employment include a focus on the following skills that promote employability: self-determination and self-advocacy; social interaction; travel training; communication; and independent living. Program examples include: Project SEARCH, Community-based Instruction (CBI), Community-based Vocational Education (CBVE), School-based Enterprise (SBE), Internships and Pre-apprenticeships. Availability of programs vary by school district and some programs have application processes, eligibility criteria and/or pre-requisites.

Additional information on some of the available deferment programs can be found within the Extended Transition Programs List

It is important to note that students with disabilities must first meet all credit, grade point average (GPA) and testing requirements for a standard diploma prior to deferring the receipt of such standard diploma. For detailed information on the various Florida standard diploma options and their requirements, please see the Graduation Pathways Chart.

Per s. 1003.5716(2)(a)(1-2), F.S. and Rule 6A-1.09963(6), Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), school districts are required to provide all students with disabilities and their parent(s) information and resources related to the deferment process beginning no later than when the student turns 14, or by the first day of high school, whichever occurs first. This information will be provided annually and includes:
  • Eligibility criteria to defer a standard diploma.
  • Timelines of deferment process activities and communication requirements.
  • Relevant information on deferment programs.