We’re in the middle of an unprecedented event: a global pandemic the likes of which the world hasn’t seen in more than a century. The world that we knew has shifted. Cities are in lockdown, companies have shut down, and an entire workforce is stranded at home, wondering what’s next. 

CPE may be the last thing on your mind, but since it’s unclear when things will go back to “normal”—or if they ever will—it’s important to be thinking about how you will be able to meet your state’s requirements when major avenues for earning CPE are closed. While many organizations are relaxing the rules, it’s unclear whether that will apply to CPE requirements. 

As this is happening in Q1 of 2020, you have plenty of time to update your CPE plan.

The Bad News

If you’ve relied on conference-style CPE, you may be out of luck in 2020. We don’t know what the future holds, but for right now, conferences just aren’t an option. Even a traditional classroom style CPE class is off the table, so if you’re looking to earn CPE over the next couple of months, you may need to explore other options. 

Which brings us to the good news…

The Good News

It’s easier than ever to earn CPE online in 2020. There are dozens of online CPE providers (including some of the top choices we’ve reviewed like Surgent CPE, Illumeo, and CCH CPELink) offering a wide variety of options. You can get your CPE delivered in a live format like a webinar or virtual conference. You can get your CPE delivered via PDF so you can read it. You can get your CPE in an interactive format where you watch the video and answer questions, getting your answer immediately. 

The Better News

Most CPE providers who weren’t already offering online options are making the pivot now, and those that were already doing so are increasing offers to fill the need. While it may feel less important right now in late March, the year passes by so quickly that it’s important to remember that earning CPE along the way is essential to hitting your hours. 

There are also plenty of COVID-19 related webinars and courses popping up, so you can stay updated and informed of the latest pronouncements, changes to financial reporting, and all other COVID-19 related topics while still earning much-needed CPE. 

Find Your CPE

At the end of the day, we don’t know what the rest of the year holds. Things could completely recover and we’ll be back at those thousand person conferences, earning CPE right next to other CPAs. Or we could be social distancing for the foreseeable future, earning CPE in our pajama pants on the couch, watching instructors who likely has pajama pants on themselves. Whatever happens, rest assured that you can still earn your CPE before the end of the year. Simply choose the CPE provider that fits your needs (you can see our full reviews here) and start earning. Because who knows what’s going to happen next? 

The Updated News

After this post was publised, NASBA announced that they would recommending all Boards of Accountancy offer a grace period to meet CPE requirements. Their official statement reads:

“Over the last week, we have received numerous inquiries from Boards of Accountancy, CPE providers and licensees about upcoming CPE reporting deadlines. After careful consideration of the impact that COVID-19 has had on everyone and after consultation with the AICPA, we recommend to Boards of Accountancy that have CPE reporting years ending on or before October 31, 2020, to consider offering a grace period for those licensees to meet their CPE requirements until October 31, 2020. Boards may also have to consider adjustments to any attestations that are required as part of license renewal process. It may also be beneficial to place a notification of waivers on Board websites. 

Under the above scenario, if a CPA’s reporting period ended on March 31, 2020, the licensee would have until October 31, 2020, to complete the CPE requirements for that reporting period. Similarly, if a CPA’s reporting period ended on June 30, 2020, the licensee would have until October 31, 2020, to complete the required CPE.

The use of a grace period would allow licensees adequate time to adjust their continuing education learning methods due to recent cancelation of conferences and live CPE events across the country, and to meet the growing demands of their clients during this difficult time. It would also allow Boards of Accountancy the time to assess the impact COVID-19 has had on their operations and to prioritize important board activities.

This is NASBA’s recommendation; however, each Board of Accountancy has the final authority on the CPE requirements and requirements for licensure renewal. We will be gathering information on those Boards that will be extending CPE reporting periods on our website shortly.”

You can stay up-to-date with NASBA by regularly checking their website, and as always, make sure you know what your state’s Board of Accountancy’s rules are.