imagerioRIO GRANDE, Ohio – The University of Rio Grande has been selected to participate in a national initiative to expand educational opportunities for adults as a LearningCounts Featured Network Institution.

LearningCounts is a comprehensive one-stop Prior Learning Assessment resource for adult learners through the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is the evaluation and assessment of an individual’s life learning for college credit, certification or advanced standing toward further education or training.

Rio Grande has offered PLA since 1999 to best serve post-traditional students and veterans. The LearningCounts partnership through CAEL and the Ohio Board of Regents further solidifies Rio Grande’s commitment to providing the best educational experience possible through continuous improvement.

“Over the last couple of years the number of students registering for Rio Grande’s PLA program has increased more than 400 percent,” said Rio Grande Associate Provost David Lawrence, DMA. “As a LearningCounts Featured Network Institution, Rio will be able to increase the program’s capacity and more efficiently serve the needs of our students.”

LearningCounts is part of CAEL’s PLA State Adoption Initiative, which selected three state systems to participate in the program. The University System of Ohio was chosen, along with the Texas A&M system and Montana Higher Education system. The Ohio Board of Regents, through its PLA with a Purpose initiative, selected four Ohio institutions to participate.

Thanks to Lumina Foundation, half of the implementation, annual fees and CAEL membership costs are waived for the first year of the two-year joint initiative.

“The University of Rio Grande has a strong reputation for serving non-traditional students and was a natural choice to participate in this national initiative,” Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor John Carey said. “The LearningCounts initiative will improve policies and capacity for Prior Learning Assessment best practices to strengthen educational opportunities for all students.”

Prior Learning Assessment allows students to earn credit for learning gained outside a traditional academic environment through knowledge gained while working, participating in employer training programs, serving in the military, studying independently, volunteering or doing community service and studying open source courseware.

Rio Grande students can discuss PLA with their advisor to identify interests and determine the fastest and most affordable path to degree and/or certificate completion. Rio’s LA 20103 – Prior Learning Assessment – is a three-credit, semester-long course that offers face-to-face interaction throughout the portfolio development process. Students have one year to complete their portfolio to demonstrate the college-level learning previously acquired. Rio faculty then evaluate the portfolios to determine whether credit has been earned.

Recognition as a LearningCounts Featured Network Institution allows Rio Grande to offer CAEL 10003, a six-week online portfolio course. The CAEL course is more expensive but offers greater flexibility since courses start twice a month and is available in disciplines not currently offered at Rio Grande.

Credits earned through either course appear on official transcripts as residential credits – not transfer credits – and more than 1,500 colleges and universities across the country accept LearningCounts credit recommendations.

“Adults know their knowledge comes from more than just a course, a classroom or a lecture; and we know it too,” CAEL President and CEO Pamela Tate said. “They have the desire to resume their college studies and are searching for ways to do so while saving time and money. CAEL is committed to working with higher education institutions in Ohio and beyond to recognize the importance of this kind of learning. We are privileged to have Rio Grande come on board with our efforts.”

For more information about the University of Rio Grande and PLA opportunities visit or call 800-282-7201.