TN 1 (05-05)
PR 02105.019 Kansas
A. PR 05-134 Request for Legal Opinion - Status of General Educational Development (GED) Programs at Kansas Community Colleges
DATE: April 18, 2005
The GED program at Butler Community College (BCC) is not approved by the State Board of Education or other local board; therefore, the BCC is not an educational institution for SSA purposes.
You requested advice regarding whether a student enrolled in a GED program at the Butler Community College Adult Education/GED program is entitled to Title II student benefits. You referenced 20 C.F.R. § 404.367 and Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.200B.2. Based upon the facts presented, it is reasonable to conclude that the student is not entitled to student benefits.
The materials that you sent with your request show that Brandi K. D~ completed an SSA-1372 on which she stated that she was attending the Butler Community College Adult Education/GED program in El Dorado, Kansas. She reported that she was a full-time student and that the school year began on January 4, 2005, and would end on May 29, 2005. Ms. D~ stated that she was scheduled to attend school 20 hours per week and expected to graduate from the program in June 2005. Virginia Sue C~, the Adult Education Director, signed the SSA-1372 and thereby verified the information provided by Ms. D~ and that the school's course of study was at least 13 weeks in duration. See SSA-1372.
In a Report of Contact from an SSA field office, dated February 15, 2005, Madison H~, the Associate Director of Adult Education/State Director of GED Testing, Kansas Board of Regents, stated that the GED programs are not approved by the State Board of Education or other local board. Ms. H~ reported that the GED curriculum was designed to provide the necessary skills for the student to get into college or a technical training program. She stated that the course generally lasted 13 to 18 weeks and students were required to attend a specified number of hours each week. Ms. H~ reported that the GED program was not considered secondary-level education, but was part of the adult education programs at the community colleges. She stated that the community colleges were under the control and jurisdiction of The Kansas Board of Regents which is the governing body for colleges and universities in the state of Kansas. See SSA-5002 (02/15/05).
On February 17, 2005, Virginia S. C~, the Adult Education Director at Butler County Community College, reported that she was unsure whether the GED program at Butler County Community College was approved by the State Board of Education. She stated that the program was funded and approved by the State Board of Regents. Ms. C~ explained that the GED program is part of the Adult Education program, but that the curriculum was considered to cover K-12 material. See SSA-5002 (2/17/05).
Section 202(d) of the Social Security Act (Act) provides that child's insurance benefits usually terminate when the child attains age 18. See 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(6) and (7). Entitlement to child's benefits may continue, however, if (among other things) the child "was a full-time elementary or secondary student and had not attained the age of 19." See 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1). A full-time elementary or secondary student is defined as "an individual who is in full-time attendance as a student at an elementary or secondary school, as determined by the [Commissioner] (in accordance with regulations prescribed by him) in the light of the standards and practices of the schools involved." Id. at § 402(d)(7)(A). An elementary or secondary school is defined as "a school which provides elementary or secondary education, respectively, as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located." Id. at § 402(d)(7)(C)(i).
The issue is whether the GED program at Butler County Community College qualifies as an educational institution under the Act. Because the community college is located in El Dorado, Kansas, the answer to this question must be determined under the laws of the State of Kansas. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a) ("[y]ou attend a school which provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the law of the State…in which it is located"); POMS RS 00205.200.
An educational institution "is a school that provides elementary or secondary education (grade 12 or below) as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located." See POMS RS 00205.200. Additionally, a high school level program or course taken at a community college is considered to be at the grade 12 level or below "if the program is approved as a secondary level school program by the board of education of the State or other local jurisdiction in which the school is located." See POMS RS 00205.200.
In this case, Ms. H~ stated that the GED program at Butler Community College is not approved by the State Board of Education or other local board. Both Ms. H~ and Ms. C~ stated that the GED program at Butler Community College is an adult education program. Additionally, they both reported that Butler Community College is under the jurisdiction and control of the Kansas Board of Regents. See SSA-5002 (02/15/05); SSA-5002 (2/17/05); see also Kan. Stat. Ann. § 72-4530(a) (the board of regents has the power to adopt rules and regulations related to the processing and issuance of general educational development (GED) credentials); Kansas Board of Regents, at http://www.kansasregents.org.
Because the Kansas Board of Education has not approved the Butler Community College GED program as a secondary level school program, we believe that the program cannot be considered an educational institution. See POMS RS 00205.200. Therefore, we believe it is reasonable to conclude that a student, who is over the age of 18 and attending a GED program at Butler Community College is not eligible for student benefits.
Frank V. S~
Chief Counsel, Region VII
Angela G. T~-M~
Assistant Regional Counsel