New Regulations for Ability to Benefit and California’s Career Pathways

01 Mar 2023

“California has all the elements to help put together a successful Ability to Benefit strategy,” said Judy Mortrude of World Education, Inc., in the February 14 webinar, New Regulations for Ability to Benefit – What Do They Mean for California’s Career Pathways? Such a strategy would provide much-needed financial support for adult learners in earning their high school diploma or equivalency while working toward a postsecondary credential.

adult student

Ability to Benefit (ATB) is a path to eligibility for federal financial aid for students who don’t have a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent. However, adult learners still face barriers of time and money in accessing ATB. But in California, colleges and adult school partnerships can now use adult dual enrollment as a lever to “turn on” ATB and support adult learners without a diploma/equivalency in accessing federal financial aid.

A new CLP publication, Transitioning Adult Learners to College: A User Guide for Ability to Benefit and Adult Dual Enrollment, describes this integrated strategy and how practitioners can approach developing an adult school/college partnership. The user guide includes templates and tools, along with policy info and resources. Practitioners from Chaffey College, El Camino College, and Ohlone College provided feedback on early versions.

The webinar also provided a preview of possible changes to ATB regulations, including a new federal approval process for documenting ATB-eligible career pathway programs. The new rules are expected to come out for public comment this year.

Other resources highlighted during the webinar:

CLP co-sponsored the webinar with the Association of Community and Continuing Education (ACCE), the California Adult Education Administrators Association (CAEAA), the Adult Education Office of the Career and College Transition Division at the California Department of Education, and the National College Transition Network (a part of World Education, Inc.). CLP developed the user guide with funding and support from the ECMC Foundation, World Education, Inc., the Lumina Foundation, and the Coast Community College District.