“Ability to benefit” originated in federal regulations for Title IV student financial aid programs and was adopted in NYS Education Law for state financial aid eligibility purposes effective for the 1996-97 academic year and thereafter.
When a student does not have a high school diploma or recognized equivalent (i.e., TASC), a student has a third possibility for establishing eligibility for TAP and other State awards: Demonstrating the ability to benefit from the training offered. Since 1996, such students have been required to pass a federally approved ability-to-benefit (ATB) test to be eligible to receive a TAP award. (Students who are attending college full-time on an early admission basis before receiving their high school diplomas can take an ability-to-benefit test to be eligible for TAP.)
Federally approved tests and minimum passing scores are published in the Federal Register and updated by the U.S. Department of Education when necessary. For state student aid, the same federal tests and minimum scores have been used.
However, legislative changes in 2006 and 2007 included new provisions regarding TAP awards. Students who first receive awards in the 2006-2007 academic year must have a certificate of graduation from a recognized secondary school in the United States, or the recognized equivalent, or receive a passing score on a federally approved ability-to-benefit test that has been independently administered and evaluated as defined by the Commissioner.
For students who first receive awards in the 2007-2008 academic year, section 661(4)(f) of the Education Law now specifies that a student who does not have a U.S. high school diploma or the recognized equivalent must receive a passing score on a federally approved ability-to-benefit test that has been identified by the NYS Board of Regents as satisfying the eligibility requirements of this section and that has been independently administered and evaluated as defined by the Commissioner of Education.
In 2007, the Regents adopted a new section 145-2.15 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education concerning the approved tests, how satisfactory scores will be determined, and the criteria for independent test administration. In September 2007, the Regents approved four ability-to-benefit tests to be used to determine eligibility for State financial aid: the Accuplacer, ASSET, COMPASS, and CELSA (Combined English Language Skills Assessment). The CELSA is approved providing the applicant also takes a math component from one of the other approved tests. This requirement applies to students at eligible institutions receiving their first award in 2007-2008.
Effective spring 2007-08, students must have taken one of the four tests identified by the Board of Regents.
Effective summer 2008-09, first-time recipients must take and pass an approved ability-to-benefit test within the institution's add/drop period to establish award eligibility in that term.
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