The Impact of Prior Learning Assessments on College Completion and Financial Outcomes

61 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2017 Last revised: 4 Feb 2019

See all articles by Angela Boatman

Angela Boatman

Vanderbilt University

Michael Hurwitz

College Board

Jason Lee

University of Georgia

Jonathan Smith

Georgia State University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 1, 2019


This paper estimates the impact of the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), an exam that offers credit for student competency in a content area in lieu of completing a course. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find that passing a CLEP exam leads to a 5.5 percent increase in degree completion and 1.6 percent increase in estimated income. The college completion results are notably strong for students who traditionally struggle to graduate and are often hard to track in education data, including two-year and for-profit enrollees and students in the military, students older than 24, underrepresented minorities, and homeschoolers.

Suggested Citation

Boatman, Angela and Hurwitz, Michael and Lee, Jason and Smith, Jonathan, The Impact of Prior Learning Assessments on College Completion and Financial Outcomes (February 1, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Angela Boatman

Vanderbilt University ( email )

230 Appleton Place
Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Michael Hurwitz

College Board ( email )

1919 M Street NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Jason Lee

University of Georgia ( email )

United States

Jonathan Smith (Contact Author)

Georgia State University ( email )

United States

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