Ability to Benefit


Updated August 2017

This financial aid initiative of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) allows students who did not receive a high school diploma or equivalent, or who did not complete a secondary school education in a home-school setting, to be eligible for Title IV financial aid. Students may qualify through a combination of identified Ability to Benefit (ATB) alternatives (e.g., passing an ED-approved placement exam, earning six credit hours/225 clock hours in an approved postsecondary program) and enrollment in an eligible career pathway program as determined by a Title IV-eligible institution’s staff.

In 2014, the Higher Education Act of 1965 was amended to restore such ATB alternatives. The definition for ATB in the Higher Education Act now also matches the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act definition.

Resources: Legislation (2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act)