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How the 120-to-Sit Rule Change is Impacting Students and CPA Pipeline

Jan 19, 2023
Photo of a group of students studying together at a table.

November’s 120-to-Sit rule change marks a significant move to not only make Indiana more competitive, but to also aid in fixing the increasing CPA talent pipeline challenges.

For most current CPAs, however, the rule change might not seem that significant. To better understand the initial impact, we spoke with Dayon Gill, a 2018–19 INCPAS Scholar and senior accounting and finance major at the Kelley School of Business – Indianapolis, and Patrick Guymon, a fifth-year accounting and finance major at Marian University, both aspiring CPAs who will be starting at EY in the fall.

A new timeline for CPA licensure

Both Gill and Guymon have already adjusted their plans for when they’ll take the four sections of the CPA Exam.

Gill is planning to take Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) in March, two months ahead of his May graduation. He looks to take another section in July with a goal to finish his last two sections by the end of the year.

“That timeline is pushed forward dramatically,” he said. “I’m grateful because I don’t have that added stress when I start working full time.”

Like Gill, Guymon sees the change as an opportunity to reduce his stress before starting his role at EY.

“Previously I wouldn’t have been able to even start applying [to sit for the CPA Exam] until I graduated,” he said. “I now have an entire nine-month period in 2023 that I’m going to be able to sit for some of the exams.” 

Guymon had anticipated only being able to tackle one or two exams before his employment started. Now he’s working toward sitting for most, if not all, before his start date at EY.

“It means a lot. Obviously people go through their first year with all the exams, and seeing the stress it puts on them means this is definitely a great opportunity for me to try to avoid some of that stress,” he said.

Raising awareness among current and future students

Not all students, though, are as eager to seize this opportunity.

“I don’t know of any of my peers looking to take advantage of the rule change,” Gill said. He noted many of his peers are more focused on finishing the remainder of their degree.

But he also thinks many of his classmates aren’t all that aware of the change. He credits his mentors and EY colleagues for helping to keep him informed of the rule’s status.

Guymon also credits those within the profession, as well as his Marian advisor, with making sure he was aware of the change. “Almost everyone I’ve talked to has been trying to give me advice. ‘Did you hear about this? You need to take advantage of this right now.’ It has been really helpful,” he said.

He knows of a few other peers who have moved up their Exam timeline—one at Marian and one at Purdue—and he notes his quick action to apply to sit might have helped spur the others to do the same.

While neither Gill or Guymon know of many right now, they do both think more future CPAs will take advantage and hopefully work toward finishing their CPA Exam sections earlier in their career. But in order for that to happen, it’s going to require more education on the process of becoming a CPA.

“Not a lot of attention is being drawn towards the outside,” Guymon said of his experiences in the classroom. Instead, his network of CPAs has frequently helped him prepare and know what to expect in the process of becoming a CPA.

Gill agreed that some of the more practical aspects of the CPA profession weren’t discussed in the classroom.

“When a professor has talked about the Exam, the focus has been more on the material side and not logistics like the requirements and how to apply to sit,” Gill said.

“I think this should be implemented and increased. We don’t get much background on the CPA profession,” Gill added.

What does this mean for current CPA professionals?

For CPAs interested in helping to solve the CPA talent pipeline crisis, stepping into a mentor role (both formal and informal) can be crucial. As both Gill and Guymon shared, their mentorships have been invaluable for helping them along their journey, providing insights on the more practical aspects of the profession. Whether it’s making sure interns are aware of their next steps toward licensure or talking about the profession with younger students, your voice matters and can make an impact.

Looking to get more involved in the profession this year? Explore volunteer opportunities with INCPAS, including those supporting career awareness programming for high school students.

Questions about how the 120-to-sit rule changes affect you?

Contact Ali Tonini, CAE, INCPAS VP – Pipeline & Outreach, at The Indiana CPA Society also provides a variety of resources for students, including details about the 120-to-sit rule change, to help them navigate the CPA Exam and licensing process.

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