Skip to main content

Prior Learning Assessment

You may not have to spend money on a class for something you already know!

We offer credit for prior learning experiences that equate to courses taught at GRCC. If you have learning experiences — such as on the job experience, non-credit training, hobbies, etc. — you feel may meet specific course objectives!

Learn about the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

To get started with the process or find out more information, contact:

Chris Schell, Assistant Professor
Prior Learning Assessment Coordinator
Phone: (616) 234-3339

Quick Answers!

  • The cost per portfolio assessment is $150.
  • Start to learn more by reading the FAQ's below
  • Read the Student Guide link to the right. The guide includes necessary forms and directions directions for completing your PLA.
  • When you're ready to begin your portfolio, use the Template link.

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; student’s employer, non-credit training, hobbies, etc.

3. Can credit be granted for ‘life experiences?”
No. The student will be required to provide proof of college level learning obtained which meets the learning outcomes of a specific Grand Rapids Community College course.

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

5. How is prior learning evaluated?
An evaluator will be assigned to a student upon receipt of a request for credit from a student. Once an evaluator has been assigned the student will submit a portfolio consisting of proof of their prior learning.

6. Will student(s) meet with the evaluator?
Depending on the class the student is requesting credit for; the student may or may not meet with their assigned 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, use a computer application, perform a specific type of weld, etc. The evaluator will notify the student in advance should they need additional information or require the student to demonstrate their skill(s) learned.

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

8. How is cost determined for PLA?
Currently, the PLA fee is $150 per “class” regardless of the number of credits per class.

9. Can student(s) use financial aid for PLA?
No, PLA is not eligible.

10. What are the max PLA credits a student(s) can earn?
Students can earn up to 45 credits utilizing the PLA process.

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

12. Are PLA credits transferable?
The decision to accept PLA credits is determined by the institution the student(s) 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.

13. I am interested in the PLA process. Where do I get more information?
The PLA Student Guide in the link to the right contains additional information, including enrollment instructions. For specific questions you can email