Prior Learning Assessment Frequently Asked Questions

How does PLA save me time and money? If you receive PLA credit, you don’t have to enroll in the course for which you requested PLA credit.  Credits for the PLA-related course are entered on your transcript and count towards the credits required for your targeted certificate or degree program.  This frees you up to take other required courses instead and saves you money for tuition and fees from the course you didn’t have to take.

How do I get started with PLA credit? Your first step is to enroll in CCA and select (declare) a major(degree or certificate).  You should then review the courses required for that certificate or degree and identify which courses might match your military training, work experience, previous exams, and/or current industry certifications or licensure. Then, follow the instructions and other steps provided on these pages.

Can I request PLA for any course? Any class at CCA is eligible for PLA consideration using the options described previously.  The CCA PLA Credit Crosswalk lists those courses that are frequently requested for PLA and the most common exam and industry certifications that are used. If the course you’re interested in isn’t on this list, please talk with your department chair about how to apply for PLA.

Is there a limit to how many PLA course credits I can apply for? You can apply to receive a maximum of 75% of the total credits required for your certificate or degree program through PLA.  You must earn at least 25% of the required credits for your declared certificate or degree through courses taken at CCA.

How much does it cost to get PLA? PLA costs range from a per-credit cost to an exam fee charge, and in the case of industry certifications and licenses are provided at no cost.  Check the CCA PLA Credit Crosswalk for information on current PLA costs. All applicable fees must be paid when you submit your PLA Request form and prior to any exam or portfolio review. 

Who determines if I get PLA credit? For standardized exams, there is a specific minimum score you must receive in order to be awarded PLA. The CCA PLA Credit Crosswalk lists those score requirements where applicable.  If you are taking a challenge exam or submitting a portfolio for review, a faculty expert will evaluate your exam or portfolio.  In order to receive PLA credit, you must demonstrate mastery (meet or exceed “C” level work, or “B” level work where required by industry for certification) of the learning outcomes for the course.   

What if I try for PLA but don’t pass the exam or my portfolio doesn’t meet the minimum requirements?  For challenge exams and portfolios, you will be allowed two attempts to meet the minimum requirements.  That is, you will be allowed your initial attempt plus one exam retake or portfolio revision opportunity. Prior to your second attempt, you must meet with the department chair to discuss options and, if you decide to make a second attempt, you must wait at least 30 business days from your original attempt and pay a second exam or portfolio review fee. 

For standardized exams, waiting periods between exam attempts range from 30 to 90 days.  You must pay another exam fee for each attempt. See the CCA Testing Center webpage for details.

If you don’t meet the minimum requirements for demonstrating mastery, we encourage you to enroll in the course you were targeting.  Your transcript will only reflect successful PLA attempts or actual course enrollments and grades.  Any unsuccessful PLA attempt is not recorded on your transcript.

How does PLA affect my GPA? PLA credit will not count as part of your grade point average (GPA).  PLA credits are simply entered on your transcripts as the appropriate number of credits being awarded without a letter grade.

May I use financial aid to pay for PLA? Does PLA affect my eligibility for financial aid?  You may not use financial aid funds to pay for PLA costs.  PLA will only affect financial aid in that PLA credits do not count towards your total credit hours considered for determining part- or full-time enrollment status.  Please contact the Financial Aid office for additional information.

What happens to my PLA credits if I change majors? If you change majors, the PLA credit will remain on your transcript, but will only count towards your new major if the same course is part of your new plan of study.  If your new major requires different courses, you will be responsible for completing all credit/course requirements for the new program. 

Will PLA credits transfer? Any PLA credits earned will be documented on your transcript and, by law, must be accepted by other higher education institutions in Colorado provided that the PLA credits you received are part of the degree or certificate program at the institution to which you are transferring.

Can PLA help me with transferring credit from an international transcript?  If you want to transfer credit from a college or university outside the U.S., PLA is not your best option.  Instead, you may send your official transcript to a NACES-approved agency for translation, if needed, and evaluation.  Please read more about International Transcripts for additional information and instructions.

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