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We read a funny Tweet once that stated, “Applying for the CPA Exam is more difficult than the CPA Exam.” A bit exaggerated of course, but there are many different facets to the application which can make the process a bit confusing.

This is especially true since CPA Exam requirements vary by state. One particular thing to keep in mind is that there are two routes CPA Exam candidates can go through when they’re applying to the CPA Exam: State Boards of Accountancy or NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy).

Which route you take depends entirely on the state you’re obtaining your CPA license in. 

If you’re applying to any of the states below, you will be applying through CPAES (CPA Examination Services), a part of NASBA which provides a comprehensive array of services to state boards of accountancy related to the CPA Exam. The CPAES includes application processing, credential evaluations, and score reporting.

If you are not applying to any of the above states, your application will be handled and processed directly through your State Board of Accountancy.

Every state has its own decision as to whether or not they would like to be a part of NASBA’s CPAES jurisdiction. 

States that decide to remain independent do so for a number of reasons, such as being able to control their own fees and giving candidates a wider range to choose from when it comes to third party companies/organizations that handle credential evaluations and other administrative services. This means that CPA Exam costs will vary more widely within these states, especially when it comes to initial application and registration/re-examination fees.

For these states, candidates will also contact their State Board of Accountancy directly in order to determine whether or not they’re eligible to sit for the CPA Exam. The only part that State Boards of Accountancy interact with NASBA is for processing fees and issuing Notices to Schedule (NTS).

For states that are a part of NASBA’s CPAES jurisdiction, the application process is much more streamlined. 

States that decide to utilize NASBA and CPAES do so in order to make the application process for candidates more simplified. Candidates applying through CPAES will find that there are no third party companies/organizations used to help evaluate credentials or process their application. This means that CPA Exam costs have less variation from state to state. Initial application, individual CPA Exam sections, and registration/re-examination fees remain relatively the same.

For these states, candidates go directly through CPAES to learn more about what requirements they need to meet in order to be eligible to sit for the CPA Exam. CPAES works with the State Board of Accountancy to determine this. The only other time CPAES interacts with State Boards of Accountancy are when candidates are issued their actual CPA license.

Many international candidates apply to states under NASBA’s CPAES jurisdiction since the application process can be more efficient and simple, offering in house credential evaluation services as well as other resources that tailor to their unique circumstances.

S whether or not you’re a current or potential CPA Exam candidate, we hope you found this information helpful and that it gives you a better understanding of the different application routes candidates take and why.


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