ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION®
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On May 9, the Department of Education released clarifying guidance on changes to the “ability-to-benefit” (ATB) provision in the Higher Education Act that allows students without a high school diploma to enroll in postsecondary education and receive federal financial aid. The letter, titled “Changes to Title IV Eligibility for Students Without a Valid High School Diploma Who Are Enrolled in Eligible Career Pathway Programs” provides additional details related to changes made to this provision in last year’s appropriations bill.
Changes included in the December 2015 bill included:
The definition of a “career pathway program,” in which a student must be enrolled in order to receive funds under ATB, is now aligned to the definition under WIOA, which must include rigorous and high-quality education, training and support services outlined in seven key elements. To be eligible for financial aid, the career pathway program must include a Title IV eligible postsecondary program, as well as a program that allows the student to obtain a high school diploma or its equivalent—but aid can only be spent on the portion that represents the postsecondary program. Each institution will determine whether its programs meet the definition and be responsible for appropriate documentation, there will be no federal approval process.
The second change reversed the requirement that students in ATB programs receive a reduced Pell grant, and now students will be eligible for the full award they would have otherwise qualified for. This eliminates the “two-tier” system that had existed for ATB students and will make it easier for institutions to disburse aid. More details about all the changes can be found in the attached Q and A.
Posted by Alisha Hyslop on 05/21/2016 at 11:21 AM in Executive Branch, HEA, Postsecondary Issues | Permalink
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