Ability To Benefit

After July 1, 2012, newly enrolled college students without a high school diploma or GED will no longer be eligible for federal student aid, due to the elimination of the "Ability to Benefit" (ATB) options by Congress in December 2011.

The Ability to Benefit regulation provides entrance test criteria as required by the U.S. Department of Education for an applicant who does not possess a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) credential but who wishes to (1) enroll at FDTC, and (2) apply for federal financial aid.  The U.S. Department of Education issued "Ability-to-Benefit" (ATB) regulations in the Federal Register on December 1, 1995, pages 618-61844, and on October 25, 1996, pages 55542-55543.


  1. Upon application for admission under the Ability-to-Benefit (ATB) guidelines, the Director of Enrollment Management or counselor informs the applicant of the Ability-to-Benefit entrance test criteria if he/she is seeking federal financial aid.
  2. Upon verification of financial aid status, the applicant receives an Ability-to-Benefit form authorizing the applicant to take either the American College Testing (ACT) Computer-Adaptive Placement Assessment and Support System  (COMPASS) or ASSET (Forms B2, C2, D2, and E2) Placement Test.
  3. The applicant is informed that he/she must present the ATB Form to the Assessment Specialist in the Assessment Center, Room 112 in the 100 Building.  The Assessment Specialist will retain the ATB Form and administer the authorized test.  The applicant must complete all three sections of the test in one testing session.
  4. After the applicant completes the entire test, the Assessment Specialist will write   the scores on the ATB Form, sign and date the ATB Form, and enter the scores into the TSUM Colleague Screen.  The applicant will be provided a copy of the test results and the Assessment Specialist will return the completed ATB Form to the appropriate program counselor.
  5. The Counselor will evaluate and accept the applicant if he/she meets or exceeds the minimum ATB test scores as required by the U.S. Department of Education.  Applicants meeting the ATB requirements will be admitted as ATB students by the counselor and the ATB admissions status will be entered on the APPN Colleague Screen.
  6. The assessment specialist notifies Financial Aid by sending a copy of the completed ATB Test  Form to the Director of Financial Aid.
  7. The U.S. Department of Education requires that an applicant meet or exceed the following minimum scores on each of the three components of either the COMPASS or ASSET in a single testing experience:
    American College Test COMPASS ASSET
    Reading 62 35
    Writing 32 35
    Pre-Algebra/Numerical Skills 25 33
    (Scores effective on April 19, 2002 published in the Federal Register,  67 FR 19430-19432 for five years.)
  8. As required by the U.S. Department of Education ATB regulations, an applicant who does not meet or exceed all three required scores on the complete set of tests may request a retest.  The applicant must retake all three components during a single test administration session and meet or exceed the minimum scores on each    of the three components in that (or a subsequent) test administration.

    a.  Within any three-month period, the applicant may attempt one initial test and one retest, which must be taken within two weeks of the initial test.

    b.  Retesting cannot occur on the same day as the initial test.

    c.  The applicant must pay a retest fee for the second test administration.

  9. On the retest, the applicant must meet or exceed all three required scores on the three components in a single testing experience.  However, the applicant who takes a retest but does not make the required set of scores may petition in writing the Director of Enrollment Management to attempt the complete set of tests for a third time.  With the petition, the applicant must provide documentation, such as a letter signed by an administrator, which verifies participation in a school-based or community-based adult education or literacy program that would suggest that score improvement might be possible.
  10. If, within the three-month time frame, the applicant has not met the required scores, the applicant is referred to a counselor by the Director of Enrollment Management and may be advised to complete additional academic intervention or referred to the Adult Education program in Florence School District One before attempting the test again.
  11. Each subsequent testing session requires payment of a retesting fee.
  12. Special testing services may be provided for individuals with identifiable special needs.  With acceptable documentation, the Assessment Center may accommodate students with impediments such as vision, hearing, speech, mobility, and learning.  If you are interested in these services, contact the Assessment Center or the Enrollment Management Center.