The Changing CPE Landscape
Kenneth A. Heaslip, CPA, Loscalzo Associates, LTD. –
January 24, 2017
In August 2016, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) jointly revised and issued the Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education Programs. The most significant changes to the standards pertain to blended learning and nano courses.
The standards provide a framework for the development, presentation, measurement and reporting of CPE programs, and they apply to all AICPA members. It is important to note that while the New Jersey State Board of Accountancy (NJBOA) recognizes the AICPA standards, some New Jersey regulations differ from the AICPA standards. New Jersey licensees are required to follow New Jersey’s rules.
Highlights of the New Standards
The new standards incorporate many new learning methods and focus on learning outcomes. For example, it is now required that programs have at least one element of engagement for each credit of CPE. This requirement can be met by a group discussion, polling question, instructor-posed questions with time for participant reflection, or a case study. Different elements should be used throughout the course.
One of the more controversial aspects of the standards is the inclusion of nano courses. A nano course is defined as “a tutorial program designed to permit a participant to learn a given subject in a 10-minute timeframe through the use of electronic media.” Nano courses grant 0.2 CPE credits and require the CPA to watch a 10-minute video tutorial and correctly answer two questions on the course content. Currently, New Jersey does not allow nano courses.
A Review of the Current New Jersey Requirements
The current New Jersey triennial period is January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2017. Licensees must earn a total of 120 CPE credits with a minimum of 20 credits each calendar year. Here’s a refresher on New Jersey’s requirements:
- CPE course providers must be registered with NASBA or the NJBOA. Accredited universities and colleges, national and state professional organizations, and state government agencies do not need to be registered.
- There is no limitation on self-study programs. The only course that must be taken live is New Jersey Law and Ethics, which must be presented by a developer approved to present the course.
- Anyone who takes courses at accredited colleges or universities, either through live classes or online for credit, will receive 15 CPE credits for each semester hour. Proof of satisfactory completion is necessary by providing a certified transcript. For courses not offering credits, you can earn one CPE credit for each 50 minutes of class time. In those cases, obtain a signed statement from the instructor specifying how many minutes of class you attended.
- Licensees who wish to get credits for hours of instruction, instructional prep time or publications can request them by completing a form that is available on the NJBOA website. Similarly, you can request credits for courses that are offered by developers that are not registered with NASBA or the NJBOA by completing a form.
- The 120 credits of CPE must consist of at least 72 credits in technical subjects, including 24 credits in accounting and auditing for those in public practice. Technical subjects include accounting, auditing, SSARS, business law, computer science, economics, finance, management advisory services, mathematics or statistics, SEC practice, taxation, and professional ethics. In order to address the needs of CPAs in industry, they also include industry-related subjects. Courses are acceptable as long as the licensee can demonstrate that the subject contributes to the maintenance of the licensee’s professional competence.
- Topics that are not technical, also known as soft topics, can fill the remaining CPE requirement. Topics that qualify include practice management, human resources, speaking, leadership and management. However, courses that relate to practice development or marketing will not qualify.
- If a licensee has more than 100 credits after the second year of the triennial and therefore requires less than 20 credits in the final year, he or she must still earn 20 credits in the third year even if this would mean total credits will exceed 120.
Will New Jersey’s Requirements Change?
The NJBOA is currently reviewing all regulations under the state’s sunset provisions. Those provisions require that the board reaffirm the need for the regulations. Historically, the board has used this opportunity to revise the regulations. The incorporation of the new standards is expected to be discussed as part of the review but the board has not yet commented on which, if any, of the standards will be ultimately adopted. Updates will be available at njcpa.org/NJBOA.
How Can the NJCPA Help?
In order to address members’ needs, the NJCPA offers CPE in multiple formats and venues. They have expanded their offerings beyond the traditional live programs. Members can join interest groups such as federal taxation, state taxation, accounting and auditing, and nonprofit, and earn credits free of charge by attending and participating in meetings. In addition, the NJCPA has partnered with several developers that offer self-study and web-based programs. And the NJCPA’s CPE Tracker helps members manage all of their CPE credits, including those earned by other providers, in one place.
Kenneth A. Heaslip
Kenneth A. Heaslip, CPA, CGMA, is director of operations for Loscalzo Associates, Ltd. He is a member of the NJCPA State Taxation, Federal Taxation, Nonprofit, Governmental Accounting & Auditing, and Accounting & Auditing Standards interest groups as well as the Student Programs & Scholarships and Professional Conduct committees.
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This article appeared in the Jarnuary/February 2017 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.