A brief history:
Prior to 2012, students who lacked a high school credential (a high school diploma; the recognized equivalent of a high school diploma, such as a general educational development or GED certificate; or completed homeschooling at the secondary level as defined by state law) could prove their ability to benefit from a college education, and be granted access to Title IV funds such as Pell Grants, by passing a general skills test before enrolling. Students could also qualify for funding by first completing six credits of college-level courses.
The new version of the Ability to Benefit (ATB) provision restores Pell Grant eligibility for adult students who lack a high school credential, but with additional stipulations for institutions/programs interested in admitting these students.
Title IV eligibility through ATB provisions is now limited to students who are enrolled in Career Pathways programs, which are programs that integrate adult basic education with college-level coursework, lead to an industry-recognized credential, and can be the first step toward an academic certificate or degree. These programs also have to be aligned with local labor markets and provide support services to help students.
Why is ATB back in this new form?
Two main reasons:
“How can my program become a career pathway?”
Eligible Career Pathways programs consist of an adult education component and a Title IV eligible postsecondary program component. The adult education component includes instruction below the postsecondary level, and therefore, costs for this part of the program cannot be included in the cost of attendance covered by Title IV funds.
The Department of Education has also made numerous resources and forums available to educators interested in learning more about how to meet Career Pathways eligibility:
Wonderlic offers a number of solutions that can facilitate your efforts to meet the Career Pathways eligibility criteria:
Provide students with relevant counseling and supportive services
Provide structured course sequences that advance students
Provide opportunities for students to accelerate attainment of credentials
Be aligned with the education and skill needs of the regional economy
Be developed and implemented with partners in business, workforce development, and economic development