Ability to Benefit (ATB)

"Ability to Benefit (ATB)" submitted by SchoolGrantsfor Editorial Team and last updated on Monday 9th January 2012

One of the criteria used to establish student eligibility in order to receive Title IV program assistance is that a student must have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. Students who are not high school graduates (or who have not earned a General Educational Development [GED] Certificate) can demonstrate that they have the “ability to benefit” from the education or training being offered by passing an approved ability-to-benefit (ATB) test. Another way to demonstrate your ability to- benefit is to successfully complete 6 credit hours or the equivalent coursework that are applicable toward a degree or certificate program offered by the institution.

This policy requiring the testing of students who did not possess a high school diploma or a GED (General Educational Development) credential but who wished to:

  1. enroll in post secondary education and
  2. apply for federal financial aid. Passing an appropriate test at the specified level would indicate that the candidate has sufficient “ability to benefit” (ATB) from post secondary education and consequently that the application process for federal financial aid could begin.

After a review process, the United States Department of Education issued a list of acceptable tests for post secondary institutions to use for the purpose of “Ability to Benefit” testing:

The Ability To Benefit (ATB) Test is the same computerized assessment test offered during the enrollment process. Ability to Benefit Exam must be taken by students who have a diploma or school credentials from a foreign institution, and is applying for the Tuition Assistance. Students without a high school diploma or GED must successfully pass the ATB examination to be considered for federal financial assistance. Four ability-to-benefit tests that can be used to determine eligibility for State financial aid: 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.

Students are tested on basic skills in Mathematics and English (or English as a Second Language, ESL). The test is not timed but students should allow themselves at least two hours to complete. Printed results of the test are given to the student after completion the test.

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