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Financial Aid Services Bulletin 2012 - 002

Ability-to-Benefit Update

On January 18, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague Letter (GEN-12-01) that provided information on recent changes made to Title IV student aid programs under the U.S. Department of Education Appropriations Act, 2012 (Title III of Division F of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 - Public Law 112-74).

Among other changes contained in the Act, students who first enroll in a program of study on or after July 1, 2012 and who do not have a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent, or who do not meet prescribed home school requirements would no longer be eligible to receive Title IV student aid. Students who do not possess a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent but were enrolled in a Title IV eligible program prior to July 1, 2012 would continue to qualify for Title IV student aid under one of the ability-to-benefit (ATB) alternatives.

NYS Education Law (Section 661(4)(e)) allows students first receiving TAP in 2007-08 and thereafter to receive TAP if they have received a passing score on a federally approved ATB test and which has been identified by the Regents to satisfy certain requirements.

The elimination of the ability-to-benefit (ATB) alternatives to a high school diploma is for purposes of determining Federal student aid (Title IV) eligibility only. The change does not withdraw the existing federal approval of those tests nor does it eliminate federally approved ATB tests for the purposes of admissions. Consequently, there is no current impact on student eligibility for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).

HESC will continue to update you as we receive further guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.