SA-90 Academic Credit for Prior Learning

Policy Type: Student Affairs

Policy Title: Academic Credit for Prior Learning

Policy Number: SA-90


This policy is intended to facilitate the assessment, award, and transcription of academic credit for prior learning for current Green River College students to facilitate completion of a Green River College degree or certificate.

Washington State and Green River College is committed to fostering an educated and skilled workforce, which is essential for economic prosperity and meaningful work for its citizens. Increased enrollment in – and successful completion of – postsecondary learning programs is critical to achieving that goal. Academic Credit for Prior Learning (ACPL) can help more students complete their training and degree programs sooner.


All students, staff, faculty and administrators of Green River College.


Prior Learning: As defined by the Washington State Legislature in RCW 28B.77.230, it is the “knowledge and skills gained through work and life experience; through military training and experience; and through formal and informal education and training from in-state and out-of-state institutions including foreign institutions.” Award of credit for prior learning occurs when a student’s prior learning outcomes are assessed and determined to be the equivalent of the learning outcomes attained upon completion of a college course, and if the award of credit aligns with the student’s education pathway.

For purposes of this policy, awarding of credit for prior learning does not include regular credit-bearing courses from regionally accredited institutions of higher education, normally accepted for transfer credit.


Per RCW 28B.77.230, Awarding credit for prior learning will count towards student’s major or towards earning their degree, certificate, or credential, while the institution ensures that credit is awarded only for high quality, course-level competencies.

Green River College, in accordance with the State Board for Community and Technical College and Washington Student Achievement Council guidelines, recognize four categories of Academic Credit for Prior Learning:

  1. Credit by Testing – Standardized exams provide credit opportunities to students who have already acquired specific knowledge and skills that they would otherwise be acquiring in a college course. This category will be noted on transcripts as awarded for prior learning Credits may also be awarded based on established State-approved equivalency crosswalks and posted on the student’s transcript at the time of graduation. Current equivalency crosswalks are located in the college catalog.
    • Documentation may be in the form of, but not limited to test scores sent to the college from the testing agency.
  2. Course Challenges – Challenge examinations are sufficiently comprehensive to determine that the student has the same knowledge and skills as those students who enroll in, and successfully complete, the course. Faculty or departments will create these assessments. The assessments can be written, oral, practical demonstration, or some combination thereof.
    • Documentation may be in the form of, but not limited to required ACPL forms signed by the instructor(s) assessing the course challenge request.
  3. Extra-institutional Learning – Knowledge and skills acquired outside the institution and objectively verified through third-party certifications, industry-recognized testing/training, and crosswalks. This category also includes Joint Services Transcripts and American Council on Education (ACE).
    • Documentation may be in the form of, but not limited to Joint Service Transcripts (JST), American Council on Education (ACE), and valid industry training/certifications.
  4. Prior Experiential Learning – This includes the skills, knowledge, and attitudes gained through non-formal (mainly work-based) and informal (life-experience) means. Prior experiential learning is assessed through portfolio development and review.
    • Documentation may be in the form of, but not limited to, a licensure or certification document, a transcript or a portfolio project that demonstrates that learning outcomes have been accomplished. Prior experiential learning may include volunteer and community involvement experiences, military service, cooperative education, work experience, business and industry certifications, and other applicable life experiences.
    • High School 21+ Credits: All prior learning assessments HS21+ credits awarded through prior experiential learning portfolio review. This category includes:
      1. Portfolio Review
      2. HS21+ Portfolio Review

Assessments of prior learning are the responsibility of faculty who are content specialists, with external advice as necessary. Credits may only be determined and awarded upon the recommendation of appropriately qualified teaching faculty and who are on a regular appointment with the college on a continuing basis to ensure that the learning experiences fall within the regular applicable course outcomes of the College. Appropriately qualified faculty hold credentials substantiating their experience, training and degrees commensurate with their designated career and professional areas and disciplines.

Green River College will track data on the number of students awarded academic credit for prior learning including, but not limited to, the number of credits awarded, types of assessment methods used, and associated costs to the students. This data, as well as other required information, will be submitted to the Washington Student Achievement Council as required.

Documentation for all Academic Credit for Prior Learning Assessments will be kept in accordance with the Washington Student Achievement Council and state archiving requirements.

  • Must be a current Green River College student working toward completion of a Green River College degree or certificate.
  • No more than 50% of a degree or certificate requirement can be satisfied using any combination of options under this policy. The Course Challenge option may not be offered for all courses; however, individual departments or programs may place restrictions on the amount of credit awarded. Students may not use the course challenge option for a course they previously enrolled. A student who fails an attempted course challenge may repeat the course, but not repeat the challenge.
  • Awarding of ACPL does not guarantee that other institutions will accept the ACPL credit. Transferability of credits awarded for ACPL will be subject to the policies of the receiving institution.
  • Note: Green River College’s Graduation Criteria policy outlines the graduation criteria, which includes the requirement for students to complete 24 credits at Green River College (not to include high school diploma or professional and technical certificate candidates).

Students who wish to receive ACPL credits must complete the Academic Credit for Prior Learning request form in coordination with an assigned faculty member.

Note: The ACPL form will be retained by the Office of the Registrar for records retention.

Students work with a faculty member to evaluate their prior learning in relation to the course-level competencies . The faculty will award credit for demonstrated learning outcomes that are appropriate to the course. Assessment methods could be a test, demonstration, written documentation, oral interview, or other appropriate method by which the faculty member determines the students’ understanding of the subject matter.

Students are informed of possible ACPL credit transfer limitations.

Students may be awarded a decimal grade or a "P” (pass) grade for credit earned through the Academic Credit for Prior Learning process.

The number of credits earned through Academic Credit for Prior Learning are indicated on the college transcript. Additionally, the approved course(s) are noted on the student transcript under the quarter the ACPL was processed.

Regular tuition rates may be charged for 1 to 2 credits per quarter based on the number of credits awarded by the faculty member for assessment. 

Specific Authority:

Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC)

Washington State Student Achievement Council (WSAC)

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

Law Implemented:

RCW 28B.77.230

RCW 28B.10.057

History of Policy or Procedure

Draft: August 8, 2012



  • June 25, 2021
  • April 26, 2023

Reviewed by: Contact: Jenny Wheeler, Director of Office of the Registrar/Registrar, ext. 3411

President’s Staff Sponsor: Dr. Deborah Casey, Vice President of Student Affairs, ext. 3328