Who can earn PLA credit?
Anyone who is enrolled (or soon will be enrolled) as a student at a college or university and has a lot of experience or knowledge has the potential to earn PLA. The depth of your knowledge (it needs to be at the college level) and your ability to demonstrate it are key to earning credit for it. Also, every institution has different requirements for PLA, and in particular your knowledge and experience must be related to the degree that you wish to earn.
What exactly are credits?
Credits are a way of measuring your progress toward a college degree. A bachelor's degree requires 120 credits, while an associate's requires 60. Each course you take is worth a certain number of credits. So, when you earn PLA credits, you no longer need to take as many courses.
How much does it cost? Is PLA covered by federal financial aid?
Currently, no fees associated with PLA are covered by federal or state financial aid. However, credit-bearing portfolio courses may qualify for financial aid. Also, many institutions charge little or no fees for PLA credits, and in most cases it is substantially cheaper than full tuition. In fact, many forms of PLA cost less than $100 and some are free. Aid for veterans does cover many types of PLA as well.
Is it hard to earn demonstrate prior learning through PLA?
That depends on the type of PLA. For example, veterans and military personnel can obtain a free ACE transcript which could be automatically converted into credits (all the veteran needs to do is turn in a form and give the transcript to their institution). On the other end, portfolio assessments can take months of development, writing, and documentation collecting. On the whole, training assessments are easiest, credit-by-exams more difficult, and portfolio assessments the most difficult.
How will I know if my experience and knowledge can be turned into credit through PLA?
Each institution will make that determination based on assessments and their own policies. However, you can utilize our PLA Predictor to get a good idea of your options. Also, people at your institution can advise you about which PLA options you should pursue.
How do I know if my experiences and knowledge are "college level?"
Without actually going through the assessment process, this may be hard to determine. Many people are surprised by how much credit they can earn through PLA, while others may overestimate their knowledge. The best thing you can do is to talk to an advisor or faculty member at your campus to see if they think you may have the right knowledge. In the end, you will need to take and pass the assessment, but you can get some helpful guidance at your campus. In some cases, you may have already qualified for PLA credits through successfully completing a training program at work or in the military.
I am looking to get a degree so I can change my career. However, that means I have a lot of experience in something that I no longer want to do. Does this mean I cannot earn or use any PLA credits?
If you choose a degree program that is very different from your past experiences, it is true that you may not be able to use as many PLA credits as you would if you chose something similar to your old job. However, you may be surprised at how much from your job or elsewhere can be used. Also, all degree programs have general education requirements and most have electives, which are course requirements that do not necessarily need relate directly to your degree program (for example, if you are a chemistry major, you still have to pass an English course). PLA can satisfy many of these general education and elective requirements.
Do I have to enroll at a school to get PLA credits?
You must enroll in order to use them. For example, you can take CLEP exams without being enroll, but we do not recommend doing this. You need to make sure your institution and degree program can use those PLA credits before you spend the time, money, and effort getting them.
Why should I do PLA?
PLA can save you time and money, meaning you can get your degree faster and at less cost to yourself. When you earn PLA credits, those are courses you no longer need to take. For example, if you have been working at a bank for 10 years, you probably do not need to take introductory level accounting courses. This means you can move on the classes that you do need and that will most likely be more interesting to you.
Also, students who take advantage of PLA perform better in college. You are more likely to graduate and to finish quicker.
Where do I begin?
We recommend that you first check out our PLA Predictor. This will give you a good idea of some PLA options you should consider. We then recommend you take your results to your local institution. They can help you narrow down the list and help you decide which PLA options are best for you to pursue.
Also, check out our institutional profiles and PLA charts. These will tell you the difference between the programs and policies at each of our institutions. Compare your PLA predictor results to this information. You can find the institution that best matches your needs.