Competency-based Learning Programs Eligible for Title IV Student Aid
On Tuesday, March 19, the Department of Education released
a “Dear Colleague” letter
reminding higher education institutions that offer competency-based learning
opportunities that they may be eligible to participate in the Title IV federal
student aid (FSA) program of the Higher Education Act (HEA).
In recent years, programs offering students the flexibility
to learn at their own pace have been growing at higher education institutions.
These creative, competency-based learning programs, also known as direct
assessment programs, are available for degree and non-degree programs, including
many CTE programs. While a number are offered in credit or clock hours and can
be accommodated under the current title IV, an increasing number of these
direct assessment programs are not offered in credit or clock hours.
The letter issued by the department addresses the
eligibility of those competency-based programs not offered in credit or clock
hours to offer their students Title IV aid, including Pell grants and federal
student loans, through a provision in the Higher Education Reconciliation Act
of 2005 (HERA). The letter also lays out the application process for
institutions to apply for eligibility under HERA.
The department issued regulations
for direct assessment programs in November 2006 to determine eligible programs.
Under those regulations, the entire program applying for title IV eligibility
must be provided by direct assessment. Programs offered partially by direct
assessment and partially with credit or clock hours are not eligible. Title IV funds may also not be awarded for
learning or mastery obtained prior to enrollment in a direct assessment
In addition, programs applying for eligibility must be able
- Specify the equivalent number of credit or clock
hours a direct assessment program constitutes, including the reasoning behind
- Demonstrate that its institutional accrediting
agency or state licensing body has agreed with the institutions assessment of
its credit or clock hour equivalencies.
- Demonstrate that its institutional accrediting
agency has reviewed and approved its offering of the direct assessment program.
- Address how it plans to measure satisfactory
academic progress (SAP) for students in the direct assessment program.
- Address how or whether the financial aid system
will be configured to process aid for students in the direct assessment
You can find step-by-step instructions on how your
competency-based learning program can apply for Title IV eligibility directly
below the “Dear Colleague”letter.
CTE Policy Watch Blog
Duncan Talks 2014 Budget on Capitol Hill
Following the release of President Obama’s Fiscal Year
(FY) 2014 budget request on Wednesday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
appeared before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education
Appropriations Subcommittee to defend the Administration’s plan for funding
education in the coming fiscal year.
In the budget proposal, the Administration suggests
funding Perkins at 1.1 billion, equal to FY 2012 levels, before sequestration.
Additionally, the budget proposes a $10 million increase for the National
Programs line item which is designated for a new dual enrollment program
focused on career preparation.
Despite requests for an overall increase in education
funding, the Administration's budget does not prioritize additional investments
to meet the growing needs in CTE. During the hearing on Thursday, both
Republican and Democratic members of the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations
subcommittee expressed apprehensions about the Administration’s strong focus on
increasing funding for competitive grant programs. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT),
ranking-member of the subcommittee, talked about her concern for formula-funded
education programs, like Perkins, which largely did not receive increases in
funding. “The emphasis on competitive funding I find troubling,” said DeLauro.
“What is need is steady secure funding for all of our schools to move toward
improvement.” Federal investments in education must be directed to those areas
with a proven track record of success that provide all students with equal
access and opportunity.
Members of the subcommittee will now begin to draft an
appropriations bill that will fund Perkins in FY 2014. Let Congress know that
it is time to make investing in Perkins a
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In a press
release today, Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) announced a bill designed to
improve school counseling resources across the country. The Counseling for
Career Choice Act of 2013 provides increased support and professional
development for school counselors to have the resources and materials to help
students make educated decisions about their future, whether it is a four-year
university, career and technical education program in high school or other
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