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Prior Learning Assessment Process

You may be eligible for course credit through your life experience!

GRCC offers students an assessment process through which your real-world experience could earn course credit. If you have learning experiences — such as on the job experience, non-credit training, hobbies, etc. — you may qualify!

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Process Overview

The PLA process is a subjective evaluation of your experience against the learning outcomes (what you would learn if you took the course) for the course where credit is sought. From a bird’s eye view, the process looks like this:

  • The process is used only when all the other methods of transferring credit into GRCC have been tried.
  • The student applies for credit by preparing a portfolio that documents their experience and explains how that experience meets the learning outcomes.
  • The student pays an assessment fee of $150. 
  • The portfolio is evaluated by a faculty assessor against the learning outcomes and credit is awarded if the documented experience shows that the outcomes have been met.

Getting Started

Getting started is easy and free. Just complete these steps.

  1. Read the PLA Student Guide.
  2. Complete the PLA Pre-assessment Form
  3. Email the completed form to the PLA Coordinator.

Quick Links

Frequently Asked Questions

1.    What is Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)?
PLA is the process of granting credit for a student’s prior learning obtained through a non-traditional format.

2.    Does prior learning have to be provided by an educational institution?
Not necessarily. The prior learning could have been provided by several different entities such as the student’s employer, non-credit training, hobbies, etc.

3.    Will student(s) receive a letter grade for earned PLA credits?
No. Students will receive credit(s) only.

4.    What is a Pre-assessment form?
The pre-assessment form is used to 1) help narrow the list of courses that a student should consider for PLA, and 2) provide an indication as to whether or not credit could be awarded for a particular course.

5.    How is prior learning evaluated?
A faculty assessor is assigned to review a completed PLA Portfolio and determine if the student’s experiences meet the course learning outcomes.

6.    What are course learning outcomes?
Course learning outcomes are the subjects that you would master if you were to take a course. These are what the student experience is evaluated against to see whether or not credit can be awarded.

7.    Will student(s) meet with the evaluator?
In some cases, the student’s portfolio may be enough evidence for the evaluator to make a determination. In other cases, the evaluator may require the student to demonstrate his/her skills to them. For example, a student may be required to run a machine, play a musical instrument, program a computer, etc. The evaluator will notify the student in advance should they need additional information or require the student to demonstrate their skill(s) learned.

8.    Who evaluates student(s) portfolios?
Both full time and part time GRCC faculty who teach in the subject area evaluates student(s) portfolios.

9.    How is cost determined for PLA?
There is a $150.00 fee per portfolio assessment (regardless of the number of credits per class). One class is allowed per portfolio.

10.    Can the assessment fee be refunded if credit is not awarded?
No. The assessment fee applies whether or not credit is given for the course.

11.    Can financial aid be used for PLA?
No, PLA is not eligible.

12.    How many PLA credits can a student earn?
Students can earn up to 45 credits utilizing the PLA process.

13.    For which classes can students earn PLA credit?
PLA is available for any class at GRCC that does not have another form of assessment (challenge test, CLEP test, department review, etc.). General Education courses cannot be awarded credit through PLA. 

An academic advisor can assist you in determining whether PLA is a viable option for you.

14.    Are PLA credits transferable?
The decision to accept PLA credits is determined by the institution the student is transferring to. It is important to note that it is the student’s responsibility to determine if the institution they wish to transfer to accepts PLA credit.