Ability to Benefit Pell Grant Option

“Ability to Benefit” Federal Student Aid Available For Students Who Do Not Possess a High School Diploma or GED®

The Accelerate Texas Office at Houston Community College (HCC) has recently completed arrangements that will allow students who do not have a high school diploma or TxCHSE certificate to enroll at HCC and receive federal student aid including Pell Grants, if they can demonstrate that they have the “ability to benefit” from postsecondary education and training and can meet certain other requirements.

The federal student aid “ability to benefit” eligibility option is available for students without a high school diploma or TxCHSE who:

1. Pass an approved Ability to Benefit (AtB) test. At HCC, this is the ACCUPLACER.


2. Enroll in an approved career pathway program consisting of:

  • A postsecondary career program eligible for federal student aid
  • A contextualized adult education component

Students that wish to take advantage of the Ability to Benefit (AtB) opportunity for federal student aid eligibility will need to complete these steps…

1. Complete the HCC online registration process found at… http://www.hccs.edu/application.
2. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at… https://fafsa.ed.gov/.
3. Complete the ACCUPLACER for AtB eligibility purposes. Learn more at…http://www.hccs.edu/district/students/testing-services/.
4. Complete the Texas Success Initiative Assessment (TSIA) for admission and placement purposes.  Learn more at...http://www.hccs.edu/district/students/testing-services/.
Additionally, students with in-district residency who meet AtB requirements are eligible to receive reduced tuition for their career pathway college courses. Students receiving reduced tuition pay only about $20 per semester credit hour (SCH) instead of the full in-district rate of $67 per SCH. Career pathways are intended to result in direct, immediate, and sustainable employment.

Registration for classes is already underway and the helpful and friendly staff at HCC is committed to assisting you with continuing and completing your educational and training goals.

The AEL Department specializes in assisting students who do not possess a valid high school diploma or TxCHSE to enroll and complete degrees and certificates in approved career pathways. 

Remember that at HCC, when you start here, you can go anywhere!