CNM Credit for Prior Learning Policy

CNM uses the following policies to guide the award of credit for prior learning

View a printable version of:

CNM's CPL Policy

CPL Appeal Form


Purpose of Credit for Prior Learning

Learning occurs throughout various life and work experiences.  To recognize college-level learning students achieve outside of formal higher education, Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) relies on the following policies and procedures to ensure that practices are consistent with academic integrity and responsive to lifelong learners.

 The term “credit for prior learning” (CPL) refers to all of the processes CNM uses to review and evaluate evidence of learning and to award academic credit in accordance with academic and administrative standards. CPL is awarded for demonstrated proficiency in specific collegiate student learning outcomes. These student learning outcomes encompass the knowledge, skills, and competencies students have obtained as a result of their learning experiences outside of higher education.

Student Policies and Procedures

Eligibility - In order to apply for and receive CPL, the student must be an active CNM certificate or degree seeking student.

CPL Award

  1. The student’s prior learning must match existing courses using course descriptions and learning outcomes for guidance.
  2. CPL will only be awarded for courses that are directly applicable to program requirements in the student’s declared certificate or degree as specified in college publications and is consistent with other institutional policies.
  3. Students will still be required to meet the minimum academic residency requirement for any certificate or degree sought. CPL credits earned through challenge exams and e-Portfolio assessment count toward academic residency requirements. CPL credits earned through all other methods are considered transfer credit and do not count toward academic residency requirements. Residency requirements are the minimum number of credit hours that a student must earn from CNM to graduate. Students may earn up to 75% of their required program hours through any combination of CPL methods. (See Appendix 1 for details.) Students can speak with a school advisor to discuss requirements for a specific program.

Financial Aid - Financial aid does not cover the costs of CPL. However, financial aid and Veterans benefits may be affected by credit hours awarded through CPL methods. Credit hours awarded through CPL methods count toward the total earned hours that a student has acquired and the 150% rule. Students should consult with a financial aid advisor to determine how credits earned through CPL may affect them prior to requesting any CPL learning through any of the assessment methods.

 Assessment Methods - The following guidelines and methods are acceptable for assessing prior learning for awarding credit:

  1. Military Training: Credit recommendations listed in the American Council on Education (ACE) Military Guide serve as the basis for assessing transferability of military training and occupations. For military training that has not been evaluated by ACE, credit is assessed by the academic school that offers the course on a case-by-case basis.
  2. Standardized Exams: Credit will be awarded for passing scores on some national for-credit examination programs, such as the College Board College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Passing scores are available on the Assessment Center
  3. Challenge Exams: Institutionally-prepared exams have been developed for specific CNM courses to validate that a student’s prior learning meets the learning objectives of the course being challenged. A list of current challenge exams can be found on the CPL Challenge Exams web-page. If an approved standardized exam exists, a challenge exam will not be offered.
  4. Certifications and Licensures: Current industry-recognized credentials validated through the issuing agency or organization may be used to award credit, as approved by the academic school.
  5. Workforce and On-the-Job Training: Locally evaluated employer training (CNM Community Partnerships), hands-on, skills-based learning completed on-the-job (Workplace Learning), non-credit workforce training offered through CNM Ingenuity, Inc., and ACE credit recommendations listed on the National Guide to College Credit for Workforce Training. For workforce training that has not already been evaluated, ACE credit recommendations are reviewed by the academic school that offers the course, on a case-by-case basis.
  6. e-Portfolio Assessment: e-Portfolios are a collection of electronic documents submitted for credit that demonstrate proficiency in the learning outcomes for a particular course. Individual e-Portfolios will be assessed using CNM standards, guided by the best practices presented by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). Academic School Administration reserves the right to deny e-Portfolio as a CPL option for specific courses if an approved standardized or challenge exam exists for the same course.

Students can find out how to get started by visiting the CNM Credit for Prior Learning web-pages by clicking on the links in the navigator pane on the left or by speaking with an Academic Coach in Connect Services.

Application of CPL Award - Credits awarded through CPL will be applied to program requirements in the following ways:

  1. CPL credits will be applied to degree or program requirements in the same manner as other credits earned at CNM. Please refer to CPL Award section of this document for further information.
  2. CNM will award credit for prior learning only for courses or programs for which there are active CNM catalog listings.
  3. CNM will assign the appropriate CNM course title(s) and number(s) to the credit(s) awarded. Neutral grades of CR (credit), for challenge exams or e-Portfolios, or TR (transfer credit), for all other assessment methods, will be utilized and will not affect a student’s GPA. Traditional letter grades will not be used.
  4. Earned credit will be transcribed onto the student’s record within 10 business days of the award.

Transferability - CPL is granted for the purpose of satisfying CNM graduation requirements. These credits may not transfer to other colleges. Students are responsible for contacting the institution to which they intend to transfer to determine that institution’s policy on transferring CPL awarded at CNM.

Determination of CPL awarded at another institution and transferred to CNM will be made on a case-by-case basis. Students should contact the academic school from which they are seeking credit.

Fees - Fees charged for any method of CPL must be paid in full prior to the student’s submission of the CPL request. CPL fees will be reviewed and approved annually by the CNM Governing Board. All assessment methods require a $25 processing fee. Standardized exams have an additional exam cost. Please review the Credit for Standardized Exams web-page to find out the additional fee for each exam. E-Portfolio assessment has an additional $100 assessment fee, for a total of $125.

Credit for industry certifications/licensures, apprenticeships, evaluated military occupations, and workplace training: A fee is charged for processing requests for the following CPL assessment methods: State and national industry certifications and licensures, apprenticeships, CNM evaluated military credit, and community partnerships between CNM and specific employers that offer equivalent training, such as Albuquerque Fire Academy, Albuquerque Police Department, New Mexico State Police Department, Bernalillo County, and Nusenda.

  1. Credit by Exams: Fees associated with standardized exams and challenge exams vary by exam. Students can visit the Assessment Center website to verify fees associated with each exam offered at CNM. No fee is charged for transcribing credit earned by an exam that was taken outside of CNM.
  2. CNM Ingenuity, Inc. (Non-credit to Credit): No fee is charged for granting credit for specific non-credit programs offered through CNM Ingenuity, Inc. and have been evaluated for equivalency to credit programs.
  3. e-Portfolio Assessment: Students will pay a non-refundable assessment fee in order to submit an e-Portfolio for formal assessment. Students can visit the Credit for e-Portfolio Assessment website to verify the e-Portfolio Assessment fee.

CPL Appeals - Students may appeal a CPL decision in writing to the Academic School to which the initial CPL request was made. Students will complete the Credit for Prior Learning Appeal Form, attach any supporting documentation for the appeal, and submit the packet to the appropriate academic school within 10 work days from the original denial of credit.

Institutional Policies and Procedures

Tracking - CNM will prepare an annual report reflecting the level of student participation in each method of CPL assessment and the resulting credit awards in each category. Tracking information will be used to inform CNM on how to best serve students and to ensure the quality of the CPL Program.

Staff and Faculty Professional Development – Staff and faculty involved with the CPL Program at CNM will receive training for the role they serve. Periodic professional development will be provided to ensure consistent practices among assessors and to keep staff up-to-date.

Review - This policy will be reviewed on an annual basis and revised to reflect conformity with academic and administrative standards.

Appendix 1 – CPL Award Limits Based on Program Hours

If your program required credit hours for degree/certificate are:

You must earn this number of residency credit hours:

And, you may earn up to this many credit hours through CPL:

3 - 12


0 - 9

13 - 24


7 - 18

25 - 36


16 - 27

37 - 48


25 - 36

49 - 60


34 - 45