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Documentation of a Disability

Two young girls read a book together. One girl is in a wheelchair and the other shares the seat while they look at the book.


ESA+ is a program for students with disabilities who require special education services.

As part of the application process, you will be asked to submit a North Carolina Eligibility Determination Document. This document is typically created during the Individualized Education Process (IEP).

You will have three weeks to submit the Eligibility Determination document after you submit the ESA+ application.

New Applicants

First-time applicants must submit a current Eligibility Determination document from the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), issued within the last three years by a North Carolina public school (or a Department of Defense school located in North Carolina).

Do not submit other documents, as these will delay or disqualify your application.

What information does the Eligibility Determination contain? 

Eligibility Determination documents are between two and ten pages long and must include the following required information to qualify for the ESA+ program. Follow the steps below to make sure you have the correct document:

Step 1: Find the document title. It should say “Eligibility Determination”

Step 2: Check that your student’s name and date of birth are on the document

Step 3: The form should list the student’s primary area of disability

Step 4: Find the school name (this is usually listed at the top or bottom of the first page)

Step 5: There should be a checkbox where the IEP team selected one of the following:

  • Yes, the student meets the eligibility criteria for special education and related services
  • No, the student did not meet the eligibility criteria for special education and related services*

*Note: if “no” is selected, the student is not eligible for the ESA+ scholarship.

Step 6: The last page of the document should include a table that contains the names of the IEP team members and the meeting date.

Step 7: The document must include the meeting date.


A sample document is provided below (click to view larger versions of the images or download the pdf provided).

*Please note: this is a sample for illustrative purposes. Your school’s document may look slightly different, but it must contain the items listed above.

Image of the first page of a sample eligibility determination document. To download a copy see the pdf link provided.


Page two of a sample eligibility determination

Sample Eligibility Determination


An Eligibility Determination form issued by a North Carolina public school is the only document accepted by the ESA+ program to verify a student’s disability.

Do not submit:

Other IEP documentation (such as prior written notice, meeting minutes, annual goals, or progress reports). 

504 plans

Student aptitude tests (such as the Stanford-Binet, the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, The Kaufman Anderson, or any other comparable tests).

Student achievement tests (such as the Metropolitan Readiness Test, the Stanford Early School Achievement Test, the Mini Battery of Achievement, the Woodcock-Johnson, or any other comparable test).

Letter from a doctor or other medical professional.

Password-protected documents


An Eligibility Determination form issued by a North Carolina public school is the only document accepted by the ESA+ program to verify a student’s disability.

Are you a prospective new student, applying in 2024 for the 2024-2025 school year? The meeting date listed on the Eligibility Determination must be 1/1/21 or later.

Submitting the Eligibility Determination 

If you submit an incorrect document you may resubmit it up to two additional times, but only within the three-week window (the deadline does not reset each time you submit).

If you have questions about uploading your document, see How to Upload Documents in MyPortal for more information.

Renewing Families

To remain eligible to participate in the ESA+ program, families must provide a re-evaluation of their student’s disability every three years.

One woman looks on while another woman types on a laptop computer


The three-year cycle begins with the date of the most recent IEP Eligibility Determination or previous Continuing Eligibility date on file with SEAA. You will receive email reminders from MyPortal when it is time to complete the re-evaluation.

Plan ahead for updating your student’s ESA+ eligibility:


Year of Evaluation Date on File with ESA+

Begin Reevaluation Process

Updated Documentation of a Disability Due 



August 2024

August 2025





How to determine if your re-evaluation date is approaching

  • Find your student’s current IEP Eligibility Determination Form (for a description of the form see “New Applicants” above).
  • On the last page of the form there should be a list of people who attended the meeting and the date.
  • Find the date of the meeting in the “Date” column and add three to the year.

    For example, if the meeting date was 2021:

    2021 + 3 = 2024

    You would start the re-evaluation process in August 2024 to allow enough time to complete the process.

Re-Evaluation Options for renewing students

If the primary or secondary disability listed on the student’s Eligibility Determination has not changed, renewing families may submit one of the following to SEAA.


  1. Public School Eligibility Determination: The local public school system assesses the student to determine if the student continues to be a child with a disability. The document to submit to ESA+ is the Eligibility Determination issued by the IEP team.


  1. Psychologist Assessment*: A North Carolina Licensed Psychologist with a school psychology focus or a North Carolina Licensed Psychiatrist assesses the student to evaluate if the student has improved his or her educational performance and would continue to benefit from the Eligible School or Home School. The document to submit to ESA+ is the Continuing Eligibility Form.
    • The cost of a psychiatrist or psychologist is an acceptable use of ESA+ funds if the provider is registered and accepted with ESA+. In the course of providing a therapeutic service, the registered and accepted provider can complete the Continuing Eligibility Form.


  1. The Psychologist Assessment cannot be used to document a change in the area of disability.
  2. The Psychologist Assessment cannot be used if the student’s only disability designated on the IEP Eligibility Determination is Developmental Delay.


Contact your local public school and request a re-evaluation. A full IEP is not required for this process; only the Eligibility Determination document.

Please contact the ESA+ program at or North Carolina’s Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center (information follows below).


Need Help?

The Exceptional Children's Assistance Center (ECAC) logo

If you have questions about initiating the special education process, timelines, evaluations, reevaluations, and/or eligibility, please contact the Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center (ECAC) at 1-800-962-6817 or ECAC provides NC families with tools, resources and information to help them make informed decisions and become their child’s best and most effective advocate. ALL of ECAC’s services to families are provided at no cost.

Please note that ECAC is a wholly separate entity from the State Education Assistance Authority (the “Authority”).  ECAC is not affiliated with the Authority and the Authority is not responsible for any representations or information provided to the public by ECAC.