Ability-to-Benefit (ATB) Testing Requirements for State Financial Aid

A student seeking State financial aid (including TAP) for the first time, beginning with the 2007-08 academic year, must pass a federally approved ATB test identified by the Board of Regents if the student does not possess a U.S. high school diploma or its recognized equivalent. (Section 661 of the Education Law, as amended by Chapter 57 of the Laws of 2007)

Note:  to learn more about acceptable U.S. High School diplomas and their equivalents, please see our ATB questions and answers.

The purpose of this and related ATB requirements is to ensure the effective use of financial aid funds and to help align admission requirements, level of curricula, and academic support. Information about the application of the law is summarized in CEO memo 10-02pdf (184KB).

Required Institutional Statement on ATB Tests

As part of the amended ATB requirements, all degree-granting and non-degree public vocational institutions must submit the Statement on Ability-to-Benefit Tests (NYSED ATB Form 1)word document (99KB), by July 1, 2010, to identify the following:

  • the approved ATB tests the institution will use for students without U.S. high school diplomas or the equivalent and who wish to qualify for State student aid;
  • minimum passing scores on those tests, consistent with admissions criteria, curricula and academic support; and
  • how the institution will administer the tests.

The following four tests have been approved by the Regents for ATB purposes:

  • Accuplacer
  • COMPASS (including COMPASS/ESL*)
  • Combined English Language Skills Assessment (CELSA)*

 * Note: an institution using the COMPASS/ESL or CELSA tests must also use the quantitative section of the Accuplacer, ASSET or COMPASS tests. 

The minimum passing score an institution sets on an approved ATB test must first be approved by the Board of Regents. Determinations about minimum passing scores on approved ATB tests should be strongly linked to the institution’s admission and financial aid policies, as well as with the level of curricula and academic support provided to students.

Annual Certification

Beginning in 2011, each institution that offers ATB tests to qualify students for financial aid will certify annually, by July 1, that its procedures meet the requirements of Section 145-2.15 of Commissioner’s Regulations, which implements the amended ATB requirements.

Questions and Answers

Please review our ATB questions and answers for additional guidance.

Last Updated: March 27, 2018