An adult learner is defined as an enrolled student who meets at least one of the following:

1. Age 24 or higher
2. Veteran
3. Someone who has had a hiatus from education for 4 years
4. Someone who has multiple adult roles

Adult learners have extraordinary challenges as they attempt to fulfill responsibilities to family and work while balancing requirements of being an enrolled student. To provide better service to adult learners, certain accommodations are to be provided as they process administrative transactions within the university. Adult learners:

1. Do not have to maintain continuous fall/spring enrollment (maximum stop-out = 3 years).
2. May move freely among campuses without a formal change of assignment, providing their academic program is offered at the campus of enrollment.
3. May stay in their original program year.
4. Are not subject to Senate Policies 83-80.2 and 83-80.3 (time for credit acquisition requirements).

The academic colleges have the responsibility of identifying their academic programs to which these adult learner accommodations would not be extended. Colleges are encouraged to include as many programs in this category as possible, but it is recognized that due to limitations such as external accreditation, selected programs might not permit such accommodations.


1. Determination of an adult learner will be made at the time of initial admission and entered in the Integrated Student Information System (ISIS) by the Undergraduate Admissions Officer or the college dean of the student's college of enrollment.

2. The ISIS system will provide an on-line screen for entry and update of an "adult student" indicator in the student record on the ISIS database. There are two possible values:

No (default value) = not an adult learner
Yes = the student is an adult learner

3. The Office of the University Registrar is responsible for maintenance of the list of those academic programs that permit adult learner accommodations. The colleges are responsible for notifying the University Registrar of changes to this list. A program cannot be removed from the list if students are actively enrolled in the program.

4. The re-enrollment process is the vehicle that will enforce the adult learner accommodations related to program year, stop-out period, and allowable academic program. Adult learners who stop-out for more than 3 years must be re-enrolled to continue their enrollment. Such re-enrollment requests will automatically require a Dean's review. The Dean may deny the re-enrollment request if the student's prior program is no longer offered.

The Degree Audit process is the vehicle that will enforce adult learner accommodations related to completion of credit requirements.

(Ref: Senate Agenda, Appendix C, 3-25-76)

Approved: Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Vice Provost (3-23-87)
Revised: ACUE (1-21-99)


The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. Please consult a Penn State academic adviser for more detailed information. Penn State is an affirmative action, equal opportunity university.