At the beginning of 2023, the AICPA released a draft of an 8-point plan to address the challenges facing the CPA Pipeline. The SCACPA Board of Directors reviewed this plan in detail at its meeting on January 20. On several initiatives, such as reducing jurisdictional barriers and working closely with colleges and universities, SCACPA is well ahead of the game.

The plan also outlines the Integrated Education and Experience Program (IEEP). As defined, this program would allow students to work and earn college credit simultaneously. The plan calls for the design of a curriculum accredited universities would adopt, and firms then implement into the working hours of CPA candidates. The primary goal of this program would be to reduce the candidate’s cost of the additional 30 hours within the 150-hour education requirement.

While this initiative could lower the candidate cost, the Board feels it will not adequately address pipeline compression. Board members believe this approach does not remove barriers to entry but instead places additional strain on those seeking to join the profession. As such, they have no confidence in this proposed solution.

After a comprehensive discussion at the Board meeting, the Association penned a letter to the AICPA expressing concerns regarding the IEEP and feedback regarding the other points in the draft plan. In this response, the Board outlined a different dual-path solution to the pipeline challenges. The full response may be found here.

From the letter: “The pace of change challenges any curriculum to remain relevant to business needs, much less one designed for the diversity of skills required of today’s and future CPAs. Offering two options (150 hours with one year of experience and 120 hours with additional experience) as substantially equivalent paths (1) addresses current pipeline needs, (2) removes a known barrier to first-generation students, (3) reduces the cost of licensure and (4) aligns with the workforce directives of the South Carolina legislature. In fact, we believe the latter path immediately qualifies a large population of potential candidates for licensure (pending passage of the CPA Exam). This has a powerful, immediate, and measurable impact on the pipeline. This should not be seen as a regression in qualifications but as affirming that existing CPAs with 120 hours of education and additional experience are equally as competent as the 150 hour CPAs.”

We look forward to collaborating with the AICPA to improve the pipeline and find a more workable solution for removing barriers to licensure.