By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager
Meaningful change within the profession does not happen overnight, but the investment in Ohio’s accounting pipeline is worth OSCPA’s commitment and dedication.
Gov. Mike DeWine on Jan. 7, 2021 signed House Bill 442, into law, a bill that allows students to sit for the CPA exam at 120 semester hours.
Getting to this point has been years in the making. The OSCPA Executive Board in 2017 formed a task force of educators and CPA employers, the consensus of which found they could support sitting at 120 hours while maintaining 150 for licensure. A subsequent deep dive in 2018-2019 by OSCPA’s Young CPA Board found very strong support for the changes.
Ohio State University accounting major students in February 2020 testified at the Ohio Statehouse in support of the change, citing a statewide OSCPA survey of college student members stating that 58.5% did not want to wait as long as the Ohio law requires to take the exam and 89% would be more likely to transfer their scores back to Ohio if Ohio were to become a 120 state.
During that testimony, OSCPA President & CEO Scott Wiley, CAE, told members of the House Commerce & Labor Committee that HB 442 also will help the Society’s goal of increasing diversity in the profession.
“For non-traditional students who need to work while finishing college – a scenario which disproportionately impacts minorities – supportive employers may help with tuition reimbursement or cover the costs of CPA review courses and the test itself. Other employers give a bonus when they become licensed.”
The profession, and Ohio, cannot afford to lose out on top talent or diversity. According to a 2019 AICPA Trends Report, enrollment in bachelor’s accounting programs has decreased 4%, and master’s enrollment has decreased 6%. Additionally, according to the 2020 AICPA and CIMA integrated annual report, there was a decline of almost 29% of candidates who sat for the CPA exam from 2017 to 2020.
The bill, sponsored by Reps. Bill Roemer, CPA, R-Richfield, and Thomas West, D-Canton, became effective on April 7, 2021. The new law was a major legislative victory for the accounting profession and was the result of lengthy discussion and research by OSCPA members and staff.
The bill also eliminates a punitive provision in Ohio law that doubles the experience requirement for those who start the exam process sooner than 90 days before completing their education; the requirement drops to one year, down from two.
ABO’s finalized rule changes in October 2021 to clarify when future CPA Exam candidates may begin the exam process. The rule, 4701-3-03 – which became effective Oct. 20 – will allow students who have completed at least 120 semester hours of education to start taking one or more parts of the CPA Exam after finishing at least 24 of the required 30 accounting hours and 24 business hours. The 24 hours must include coursework in auditing, financial accounting, management accounting or cost accounting, and taxation. All 150 semester hours, including all 30 accounting hours, still must be completed for licensure, as is the case in all 50 states.
Prior to the change, many Ohio students physically tested in Ohio but sent their CPA exam scores to other “120 hour” states that have lower or more flexible coursework requirements so that they can study for and take one or more parts of the exam while they are still in school, before graduating and starting a demanding job. Alaska, Michigan and Kentucky were popular choices. To later become licensed in Ohio, those students had to deal with paperwork hassles and pay fees to transfer scores to the Accountancy Board of Ohio, which is a disincentive to license and work in Ohio.
After Ohio passed its legislation, Indiana and Nevada have also adopted 120-hour rules for the exam. Texas is now looking to do the same.
The change in Ohio comes at a fitting time for the profession as CPA Evolution, a joint effort of NASBA and AICPA, will transform the CPA licensure model to recognize the changing skills and competencies efforts and change the CPA exam in January 2024.