Ability to Benefit Students No Longer Eligible for Title IV Funds

For over 25 years, high school dropouts have been able to attend America’s technical colleges with financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education based on a specific provision within the Pell Grant Program. The provision, known as “Ability to Benefit,” allows dropouts who are no longer high school-age to demonstrate their readiness for post-secondary education by achieving certain scores on the college’s placement exam. Despite its success rate during the past 25 years, new federal legislation eliminates the “Ability to Benefit” option effective July 1, 2012.

Everyone is entitled to a 2nd chance:

Some high school dropouts are quite capable of mastering collegiate-level work at technical colleges. It is important to remember that individuals who do not complete high school have varying skill levels and some might have advanced to the 12th grade before dropping out. Thus, it is unfair to paint them all with the same broad brushstroke. In order to take advantage of the “Ability to Benefit” provision, these students are required to pass a test indicating that they can read, write, and compute at or above the 12th grade level. Passing the test proves that they have the ability to benefit from a post-secondary education and are likely to graduate from identified programs.

Are you prepared for the change?

Changes to Title IV financial aid eliminating non-high school graduates from PELL are likely to occur. The question is how we should prepare adult non-high school graduates to participate in the inevitable economic recovery. One or two years of post-secondary education are required to compete for most jobs that pay at least a living wage. Four years or more of post-secondary education are required to compete for leadership positions or for continued promotion.

Important Information:

Adults that do not have a high school diploma and /or have dropped out of high school need to enroll prior to June 30, 2012 in order to continue to take advantage of Title IV financial aid through Ability to Benefit. ATB will aid in receiving a diploma or certificate that will make them more likely to participate in the economic recovery.

Source: Anthony O. Parker, Ph.D., is president of Albany Technical College