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Clock to Credit Hour Conversion

ACICS Advisory, March 2011

CLOCK TO CREDIT HOUR CONVERSION

Effective July 1, 2011, the U. S. Department of Education will require institutions offering vocational training programs to apply new formulas in converting clock hours to credit-hour equivalencies. Undergraduate programs which meet the Department’s definition of “clock hour programs” must use the new clock-to-credit hour conversion. (For the definition of “clock hour programs” see 34CRF §668.8(k) and for clock to credit hour conversion details, please read Federal Register, October 29, 2010, §668.8(l)(2) Eligible Program.) Under these new conversion formulas, programs that are 720 clock hours in length, for example, will no longer be eligible for 24 semester credits of Federal Title IV, HEA student financial aid. Only programs that are 900 clock hours in length will be eligible for this amount of aid. The new formulas given below and related regulations will be used in determining program eligibility for financial aid: 


  • One semester/trimester credit hour is equal to at least 37.5 clock hours of instruction, including a minimum of 30 clock hours of classroom or direct faculty instruction. The remaining 7.5 clock hours may include acceptable and documented student work outside of class and/or instructional hours.

  • One quarter credit hour is equal to at least 25 clock hours of instruction, including a minimum of 20 clock hours of classroom or direct faculty instruction. The remaining 5.0 clock hours may include acceptable and documented student work outside of class and/or instructional hours.

  • An institution may use the clock hours of instruction currently in place if the institution’s accrediting agency recognizes student work outside of class as additional clock hours which combined with the instructional clock-hours is at least 37.5 clock hours for 1 semester/trimester credit hour or 25 clock hours for 1 quarter credit hour.

  • Accrediting agencies are required to develop policies and procedures to validate institutional compliance with these standards and are also required to notify the Department if an institution demonstrates “systemic” or “significant” noncompliance.

A new Clock to Credit Hour Conversion Application allows institutions to submit for ACICS review and approval the institution’s plans to comply with the new formulas for currently approved programs, including recognition of acceptable out-of-class work.

Important: It is the responsibility of the institution to secure full information from the Department of Education and to comply with regulations affecting eligibility for Federal Title IV, HEA student financial aid programs. ACICS instructions and guidelines are subject to change as Council considers further implementation advisories from the U. S. Department of Education.

 

Institutions Affected by This Regulation

> Institutions offering non-degree diploma or certificate programs of at least one academic year in length and other non-degree credentials that prepare students for gainful employment. 
> Degree programs that are less than at least two academic years in length. 
> Programs considered as clock-hour programs as defined by the Secretary for financial aid purposes.

Acceptable Out-of-Class Work

The syllabus for each subject/course in the curriculum must clearly identify how the students are expected to show engagement in out-of-class learning activities equivalent to the required number of hours. Out-of-class hours must be justified in terms of their contribution to the objectives of the program and the expected learning outcomes of the course.

Out-of-class activities may include the following:

  • Reading and writing assignments

  • Projects

  • Clearly defined papers or reports

  • Practice or practical application of theory

  • Other learning experiences

The institution must demonstrate that it has a system for documenting and evaluating students’ academic achievement that includes out-of-class work. Institutional compliance with its stated policies and procedures will be subject to review during on-site evaluation visits.

Attribution Formulas for Clock Hour to Credit Hour Conversion for Financial Aid

For Federal Title IV, HEA financial aid purposes, institutions are expected to comply with attribution formulas specified by the Department of Education. Please note that federal requirements relating to the allocation of credit hours may vary from ACICS’s criteria on Course and Program Measurement (See Standard 3.1.516).

NOTE: The syllabus for each course must provide appropriate content and out-of-class learning to support the academic credit awarded for the course. It is the responsibility of the institution to demonstrate that equivalent instructional and additional outside preparation hours are accounted for programs that deliver instruction online or through non-traditional means.

Options

Institutions that wish to retain Title IV eligibility must comply with the new regulations for currently approved programs and request the Council’s review and approval. The following options may be considered:

Option 1: Change total clock hours of a currently approved program by taking into account out-of-class student work. Depending upon the current length of the program, if instructional clock hours are added, this change may result in Non-substantive Program Modification (less than 25% - see ACICS Accreditation Criteria, Section 2-2-503(b)) or Substantive Change (25% or more – see ACICS Accreditation Criteria, Section 2-2-503 (a)).

  1. Submit online Clock to Credit Hour Conversion Application which includes a Profile of Clock to Credit Hour Conversion form.   

  2. If additional instructional clock hours are included and the change results in less than 25% of current hours, submit online the Non-substantive Program Modification Form.  OR

  3. If additional instructional clock hours are included and the change results in 25% or more of current hours, submit online the New Program Application.  

Option 2: Change total clock hours of a currently approved program without taking into account out-of-class student work. If the institution chooses this option, Council requires a detailed and comprehensive written justification for the increase in hours to demonstrate that the new program length is appropriate for students to achieve specific knowledge, skills, and competencies required for employment. This letter of justification must be addressed to the ACICS Director of Campus Development and submitted along with Items 2 or 3 as specified above under Option 1.

Contact

Inquiries may be directed to: Dr. Joseph E. Gurubatham, Director of Campus Development, jgurubatham@acics.org or Susan Greer,
Senior Manager of Operations, sgreer@acics.orgsgreer@acics.org

March 28, 2011 

Al's Signature
Albert C. Gray, Ph.D.
Executive Director/CEO

 

 

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