What To Look For With Free CPE For CPAs
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You’re already aware that as a CPA, you must the CPE requirements of your state accountancy board to maintain the active status of your license. Apart from the effort, there are two factors that often make many CPAs concerned the most.
The biggest one among these is the cost of CPE, with time being the other one. While you cannot shorten the time of pursuing CPE, you can certainly reduce the cost of CPE to some extent with the help of CPA CPE free programs.
On this page, we’ll discuss all the essential things related to free CPA CPE. However, before delving deeper into the discussion, it’s important to mention that it’s hardly possible to meet all your CPE requirements by pursuing free CPE for CPAs.
The reason is that there’s hardly any provider that offers CPA CPE free programs on ethics. And, as you already know, without earning a particular number of CPE credits in ethics, no state board will allow you to renew your license.
As the name implies, free CPA CPE programs refer to the programs that let you earn some CPE credits for free. While you don’t need to pay anything for taking these programs, the guidelines for earning the credits remain the same as paid programs.
For instance, if you take self-study courses to pursue CPE for CPAs free, you must successfully clear the exam at the end of each course to earn the credits.
Similarly, if you want to take webinars to earn free CPEs for CPAs, you’ve to meet the requirements to earn your credits. For example, in a 60-minute webinar, you must be present for at least 50 minutes and answer a certain number of questions to prove your active participation.
Each year, countless CPAs pursue free CPA CPE. To understand the reason, first, we need to know the different components of the total CPE cost. Generally, there are three factors that add this up.
· The cost of CPE programs
This is the most expensive component of the total CPE cost. In most states, CPAs need to earn 40 CPE credits each year, regardless of the variances between their licensing periods.
Depending on your CPE sponsor and learning method, the cost of earning 40 credits can vary between several hundreds of dollars and a couple of thousands of dollars.
· License renewal fees
This is the cost that CPAs pay to their individual state board of accountancy to renew their licenses. Since every state has its own accountancy board, this fee varies based on location.
· AICPA membership fee
Although holding an AICPA membership isn’t always mandatory for CPAs, most of them choose to hold the regular membership. With AICPA membership, CPAs can access many member-exclusive benefits, partner offers from renowned companies, get opportunities to advance their careers, and more.
The cost of AICPA regular membership starts from $315/year.
As you can see, the costs of the latter two components are beyond your control. However, you can certainly reduce the cost of pursuing CPE by choosing CPA CPE free programs.
There are four main methods to pursue free CPE for CPAs. These include self-study courses, live webinars, delivering lectures, and contributing books or writing articles for publication. Let’s see what each of these entails.
· Self-study courses
Self-study courses are the most commonly-chosen methods to earn CPA free CPE credits. Similar to paid self-study courses, you get access to text- or video-based courses. You complete the course materials, clear the final exam, and earn CPA CPE free credits.
Attending free CPA CPE webinars is another popular method to earn free CPE credits for CPAs. You enroll for the webinar, attend it properly, and earn your credits.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that CPE sponsors often conduct free CPA CPE webinars on weekdays. This means attending them may need you to choose between business hours and pursuing CPE.
· Delivering lectures
The third option to earn free CPE credits for CPAs is delivering lectures. Some state boards of accountancy recognize CPE credits earned from delivering lectures on profession-related topics.
· Contributing books or writing articles for publication
You can also earn free CPE credits for CPAs by writing relevant articles or contributing books for publication on approved subject matters.
Despite all the benefits offered by the methods to earn free CPEs for CPAs, they have their downsides. Let’s take a look.
· Self-study courses and webinars
First, it’s quite unlikely that a sponsor will offer free CPE courses for CPAs or free CPA CPE webinars on the latest or trending topics. And second, as mentioned above, it may be extremely difficult to earn state-specific free ethics CPE for CPAs.
This is because there’s hardly any CPE sponsor that offers state-specific CPA CPE ethics free programs. Even if you find one offering state-specific CPA ethics CPE free courses or webinars, you must check its accreditations.
You’ve to do this to ensure that the free CPA CPE credits you get to earn from these programs will be acknowledged by your state accountancy board. If these programs aren’t approved by your state accountancy board, it won’t recognize the credits.
· Delivering lectures and writing articles for publication
Most state boards of accountancy that let their CPAs earn free CPA CPE credits from these methods have limitations on the maximum number of CPE credits they recognize from them. Therefore, it’s very important to check with your state accountancy board before choosing these methods.
It may be tempting to join a CPE provider quickly that offers CPA CPE free courses and programs. However, you should also keep in mind that if your state board of accountancy doesn’t accept those free CPA CPE credits, all your time and effort will be a complete waste.
With that in mind, we’ve prepared a checklist that you should maintain when choosing a sponsor to pursue free CPA CPE.
· Verifying NASBA accreditation
Even if a sponsor offers free CPA CPE courses or free CPA CPE webinars on the latest rules and regulations, you must check the NASBA Registry to ensure that it has got required approvals from the governing body.
CPE providers that are listed on the Registry must demonstrate that they’ve met NASBA’s quality standards. In fact, this is the reason some state boards only accept CPE credits earned from the sponsors that are listed on this Registry.
It’s a searchable registry, meaning you can search it using the name of the sponsor for your free CPA CPE to quickly find out whether it’s listed there or not. However, since it’s proof of quality, most CPE sponsors display NASBA badges clearly on their websites.
· Ensuring the delivery methods align with the guidelines of your state board
It’s also important to check whether or not the delivery methods to earn free CPE credits for CPAs align with the rules of your state accountancy board. This is because, in many states, there are limitations on the number of credits that can be earned from particular delivery methods.
For example, in some states, CPAs can earn all their required credits from self-study courses. On the other hand, some state boards don’t allow their CPAs to earn more than fifty percent of their required credits through this method.
Therefore, if you’re licensed with one of the second group of boards and have already earned fifty percent of your credits through paid self-study courses, it won’t be of any help to take more free CPA CPE courses.
The same thing also applies to free CPA CPE webinars.
· Verifying the quality of free courses
Apart from the credits, expanding your knowledge and skills is another objective of pursuing CPE. Because you’ll be spending effort and time to pursue free CPE for CPAs, you should ideally get something out of them.
You should always remember that without quality CPE programs, no matter if they’re free or not, you won’t be able to improve your knowledge and skills. So, be sure to thoroughly check the learning objectives of the free CPE courses for CPAs offered by a sponsor.
· Checking the quality of customer support
This exclusively applies to the online methods of earning free CPA CPE credits. As with any other thing that depends on technology, free CPA CPE online programs can have problems sometimes.
And to resolve them as soon as possible, the sponsor must provide good customer support. You can do this by reaching the customer support team of your shortlisted provider and asking them something about the courses.
A sponsor with quality customer support should offer multiple options to reach its support team. And the support team should also be prompt in answering your queries.
Now that you know how to select the right sponsor of CPA CPE free programs, here’s a comparison of the popular providers to help you make an informed decision.
Note that several leading accounting firms also offer free CPA CPE courses and free CPA CPE webinars. These include PwC, Deloitte, Ernst and Young, Grant Thornton, etc. However, for this comparison, we’ve only selected providers that have a large collection of paid CPE courses besides their CPA CPE free programs.
AICPA itself offers some free CPA CPE courses and free CPA CPE webinars. Just note that the majority of these webinars aren’t self-paced or on-demand. This means you’ve to attend them at a particular time to earn free CPA CPE credits.
AICPA has a robust library of CPE courses covering all the fields of study related to the profession. However, if you have plans to take paid courses from AICPA after trying its free CPE courses for CPAs, then you should note that its courses are significantly pricier than many other CPE sponsors.
Therefore, you may not be able to ultimately reduce the total cost of your CPE by taking its CPA CPE free programs.
· CPA Academy
CPA Academy free CPE programs are quite popular among CPAs. This is because it offers a significant number of free CPA CPE programs, including webinars and self-study courses, that can help you earn a good number of free CPA CPE credits.
However, similar to the AICPA, perhaps the main downside of CPA Academy free CPE is that the programs are good for earning some free CPE credits for CPAs. Its paid courses are relatively pricier than many other CPE providers.
· Gleim Accounting
Gleim Accounting offers two free CPA CPE courses to help CPAs earn free CPA CPE credits. However, the problem is that it only lets you earn credits for one free course. This simply means, you can always take both courses, but you’ll receive credits only for one of them.
At present, Becker offers seven CPA CPE free programs, including on-demand courses and webcasts, to help CPAs earn free credits. However, similar to AICPA and CPA Academy, its paid programs are quite costly as well.
At CPEThink.com, we currently offer three self-study CPA CPE free courses, all of which are available in both text and video-based formats. You can take all of them to earn free CPA CPE credits for each.
For nearly two decades, we’ve garnered a strong reputation for offering top-quality courses at unbeatable prices. Moreover, we’ve different types of subscription packages that are designed to let you take all our courses at significantly lower prices than their listed ones.
And once you switch to our paid courses, you’ll enjoy our 100-day, 100% money-back guarantee, which is the best in the entire industry.
If you can remember the things, we’ve discussed above, when choosing CPA CPE free programs, you’ll certainly get a wonderful opportunity to earn free CPA CPE credits and expand your knowledge and skills at the same time.
Just be sure to use the checklist when selecting the sponsors of free CPE for CPAs, and you should be able to get the most out of your time and effort. And finding the right sponsor for paid courses should also be hassle-free for you.
If you want to learn more about our free CPEs for CPAs, reach our team today!
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