Alternative Deadlines for Assignments Policy and Procedures

Students are expected to complete assignments by the due dates established by the faculty in each class. Faculty must explain in the syllabus how class assignments/projects will impact final course grades and their policy on accepting late work; this information is expected to be available at the beginning of the semester. It is the responsibility of students to understand this information by carefully reading the syllabus.

Alternative Deadlines for Assignments

Alternative time on course assignments may be a reasonable accommodation in certain situations for students with health-related disabilities. A medical or clinical situation may pose challenges with completing assignments by deadlines when unexpected situations arise. For example, students with chronic mental health or neurological conditions may require hospitalization, alternative recovery times, and/or additional time to stabilize from unanticipated adverse reactions to medication or other treatment. If the student has a disability with random or cyclical acute episodes, the accommodation allows for flexibility in assignment deadlines and make-up work.

ARS might recommend this accommodation when:

  • An assignment is not listed on the syllabus initially and is given to students with one week or less to complete;
  • The assignment deadline is listed on the syllabus, but the student does not get the necessary information to complete it until there is one week or less to the deadline;
  • An unexpected medical or physical episode interferes with the student’s ability to complete the work in the expected timeframe.

Legal Basis

Federal law requires universities to consider whether any policy or procedure in place is discriminatory for students with disabilities and alter it if found to be so. College representatives must engage in a reasoned, deliberative process to consider individualized adjustments to allow students with disabilities an equal opportunity to meet course and program requirements. However, the college is not required to waive essential academic requirements resulting in fundamental changes to learning objectives or technical standards.

ARS is required to serve as an intermediary between students and class faculty to protect student confidentiality and determine reasonable adjustments to assignment deadlines. Students must submit to the ARS disability documentation from a qualified professional to establish relevant history and current functional limitations that necessitate the requested accommodation. At no time are students required to present disability documentation to faculty. Faculty have a legal obligation, upon ARS request, to participate promptly in a collaborative and deliberative process to determine educationally feasible alternatives to their class policy on assignment deadlines.

When Deadline Extensions for Assignments Might Not Be Reasonable:

  • Assignments are sequential in nature and strictly build upon previous knowledge/skills (e.g., lab activities, assignments that prepare for weekly quizzes, project-based learning in which students must demonstrate regular progress, etc.)
  • Assignments are a significant component of the educational experience of students in the class (e.g., group-based work, discussion boards, assignment reviews as a method of instruction, etc.)
  • Retroactive accommodation for past due assignments. Faculty are not obligated to adjust deadlines for past due assignments for students who register with the ARS later in the term or wait to give notification of their eligible accommodations

In addition, assignment deadline accommodations do not apply to the following:

  • Exemption from any or all assignments;
  • Unlimited acceptance of late work; and
  • Deadline extension requests due to chronic personal organization and time management difficulties (e.g., poor planning, procrastinating, and/or overcommitting).

What is the Process?

Step 1: Students approved for this accommodation MUST request Alternative Deadlines for Assignments for the appropriate class through ARS Online Services prior to the beginning of the semester, or as soon as possible after the need for assignment deadline extensions arises. NOTE: Students should request the accommodation before meeting assignment deadlines becomes an issue.

Step 2: Faculty receives an email from ARS, listing this and any other accommodations for the student

Step 3: The student will typically contact the faculty member to set up a meeting to create a written agreement around this accommodation. Note that ARS staff may facilitate this meeting instead at either the student’s or faculty member’s request.

Step 4: During the discussion, student, faculty, and ARS Director (if present) should clearly specify:

  • If there are any assignments, papers, or projects in the syllabus where it would be reasonable to allow a flexible due date, should the student need it due to a potential exacerbation of symptoms
  • How much flexibility is granted for each assignment:
    • How and when the student should inform faculty that they will request to use their flexibility
    • How the student will submit the assignments, papers, or projects if they are being submitted after the deadline for the rest of the class
    • If it is reasonable for online discussion expectations to be modified due to disability related reasons and under what conditions

Step 5: Once the verbal agreement has occurred, students and faculty should collaborate to fill out the Alternative Deadlines Student Faculty Agreement Form through the ARS Online Portal. This is a written record of what has been agreed upon during the discussion. This form can be accessed and submitted by the student only. Once completed, the faculty member, student, and Disability Resources will all receive a copy via email. Note that if deemed most appropriate, students and faculty may summarize the agreed-upon assignment flexibility via email in lieu of completing the online form. Any questions that may arise during this discussion should be directed to 

Important Information:

  • If no one reaches out to the faculty member to discuss the accommodation and fill out the form, then the accommodation is not implemented into the course.
  • This accommodation is not a blanket reason to request flexibility on every assignment, paper, or project.
  • Some students register for accommodations late in the term, and some wait to respond to the need to fill out the Flexible Agreement Form. In these cases, faculty are not expected to provide retroactive accommodations. However, it may still be helpful to have this information, even at a late point in the term, and flexibility on any remaining future assignments may be arranged when appropriate.
  • At no time is the student required to present the faculty member with medical documentation verifying their disability related need for this accommodation.
  • Extension requests that are not related to the effects of a disability are not included in this accommodation (i.e. those due to a common illness, forgetting an assignment, etc.) and should be addressed according to the syllabus stated extension policy. The student is responsible for following the faculty member’s syllabus regarding extensions due to non-disability related issues.
  • Alternative Deadlines on assignment dates do not extend beyond the end of the semester, and therefore an incomplete in the course is not part of this accommodation.
  • Extensions may not be appropriate for every course component: a flexible due date accommodation may not be reasonable if there are group assignments, solutions released on a set schedule, or if providing this accommodation would result in a fundamental alteration of the course and/or curriculum.
  • Students have the responsibility for completing all class work and should be held to the same standard as all other students.

If the instructor and/or the student have any questions or concerns at any point about this process or agreement, please contact Accessibility Resources and Services at