TN 17 (08-04)

RS 00205.285 Independent Study

A. Definition

“Independent study,” also known as “off-campus” or “alternative school,” is a method of alternative secondary education used in some States. Independent study programs are run by local education agencies (LEA) such as high schools or school districts, in accordance with specific State law requirements, and the credits earned count toward high school graduation. The programs involve periodic teacher contact, direction, and testing on campus, with the student making academic progress generally through independent study at home.

B. Policy

Students in independent study situations can qualify if the student is:

  • In full-time attendance (FTA) based on Federal standards (RS 00205.300C); and

  • In a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under State law.

IMPORTANT: See GN 01010.800 GN 01010.815 for instructions about requesting, using, and documenting legal precedent opinions (LPO), and see GN 01010.815 for instructions about when to request a new LPO. See PR 08105.000 for LPOs about independent study programs.

C. Procedure - determining if program meets State law requirements

1. Legal precedent exists

See PR 08105.000 to determine if an LPO has been established for the independent study program in the LEA/school district.

2. Legal precedent opinion does not exist

If an LPO does not exist, obtain as much information as possible from the LEA/school district regarding the independent study program, such as:

  • The school's/school district's written plan for independent study;

  • The written agreement between the school and the student;

  • The school's requirements for attendance (both at the school and at home); and

  • The school's FTA standards for a regular day student.

Follow the procedures in GN 01010.815 to request an LPO for the State involved in order to determine if the independent study program is acceptable under the State's educational statutes.

D. Procedure - documenting the independent study program decision

Develop and document the State and Federal requirements as follows:




The student should take Form SSA-1372, Student's Statement Regarding School Attendance, to the LEA/school district for certification and return it to the FO. Does the LEA/school district certify that the student is in FTA according to Federal standards (RS 00205.300)?

If yes, go to step 2.

If no, document the file and deny the claim (disallowance code 41, student not in FTA) or terminate entitlement. Fax the SSA-1372 into the Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDRed) or eDIB for retention in the Claims File Records Management System (CFRMS). Destroy the paper copy after verifying receipt of the document in CFRMS. If PC action is necessary, in addition to faxing the form into CFRMS, fax the form to the Paperless fax number of the appropriate PC.

If the child is also filing for disability benefits, annotate Form SSA-1372 “Not full-time student” and fax it with the disability material.


Determine whether an LPO exists for the school's independent study program by checking PR 08105.000.

If yes, go to step 3.

If no, follow the procedures in GN 01010.815 to obtain a legal precedent opinion. When the opinion is received, go to step 3.


Does the LPO indicate that the LEA/school district independent study program is recognized under State law?

If yes, document the file with the LPO (GN 01010.810) and go to step 4.

If no, document the file with the LPO and deny the claim (disallowance code 38, student n