Ability to Benefit
Staff in the Houghton College Admission and Student Financial Services Offices seek to stay up-to-date regarding homeschoolers and federal regulations relating to financial aid. As a disclaimer, while we work hard to stay abreast of any changes, it is in your best interest and, ultimately, your responsibility to make sure that you have met any requirements related to financial aid eligibility. Ability to Benefit (ATB) refers to demonstrating appropriate documentation to be eligible for federal financial aid (for all homeschooled students) or for New York State financial aid (TAP).
Financial Aid Eligibility - All Homeschooled Students
As you likely know through homeschool networks you may be a part of, interpretations of existing state and federal education policy have implications for homeschoolers enrolling in college and for the receipt of federal aid (PELL, loans, work-study, etc.) or state aid (for New York State students - TAP). If you are entering Houghton as a transfer student, chances are you are even more familiar and have already met these requirements at your previous institution.
With regard to college enrollment, Houghton, as a private college, can enroll students at its own discretion. For example, we do not and will not require homeschooled students pass the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC - formerly the GED) for admission purposes.
With regard to federal financial aid and state financial aid however, homeschooled students who wish to be eligible for these forms of aid must take some steps in order for these funds to be disbursed. Below are several ways that homeschooled students can meet federal eligibility requirements:
- Provide a secondary school completion credential issued by your home state.
- Provide a state certificate received after passing a state-authorized exam.
- Provide documentation demonstrating that the student has earned passing scores on the TASC (formerly GED)
- Provide documentation verifying that the student has completed, through an accredited college or university, sufficient and appropriate college credit.
If you were to attend college or university in your home state, the same credential you would use at an in-state school can be provided to Houghton for your federal aid eligibility. Check with your home state to see what they offer and/or require of homeschooled students. Some states may not require any of the above options.
Whichever option you select, please complete this requirement before the beginning of the semester that you plan to enroll and send copies of the relevant documents to the Houghton Admission Office. This documentation must be provided prior to aid being disbursed.
If you have questions regarding the final high school transcript, please connect with the Office of Admission at 585.567.9353. Any questions about federal eligibility requirements may be directed to the Student Financial Services Office at 585.567.9328.
For New York State Students
Note that homeschooled students from New York can meet federal and New York State eligibility requirements by the following method:
- Provide a letter from the local school district's superintendent, which states that the homeschooled student's education has been "substantially equivalent" to that of the public school
Though any of the options listed in the prior section will suffice, we recommend that you pursue the letter from your local superintendent – it is free and usually easy to obtain. If you decide to pursue the TASC, your area BOCES or a local college may be able to arrange testing for you. If you choose this option, evidence that the TASC was taken and passed must be provided to the college before the semester begins so that appropriate aid can be disbursed.
Below you will also find a link to a “quick reference” guide that should help start you on the right track if you are unfamiliar with these regulations. Please also review the information that is found on the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation website.
Resources for New York State Students
- Ability to Benefit Quick Reference Guide for students from New York State
- Example "substantial equivalence" letter for New York State Students
- New York State HESC Website Ability to Benefit FAQ