Defined Contribution Administrative Issues – Compliance Issues (DC-2)

DC-2 Syllabus
Course Overview
Exam Details
Required and Supplementary Reading
Supplementary Study Tools
Exam Waivers and Grandfathering Rules
Exam & Publication References and Errata
Continuing Education (CE) Credits

Course Overview

Over the past 20 years, 401(k) plans have become an enormously popular plan design. These plans permit pre-tax retirement savings by both the employer and the employee. While these plans provide a great deal of flexibility when it comes to providing retirement plan benefits, they also have complex rules regarding plan qualification and nondiscrimination requirements.

Through the DC-2 course candidates will learn about:

  • 401(k) basics, like elective deferral limits and catch-up contributions
  • Coverage and nondiscrimination rules applicable to 401(k) plans
  • How to correct failed ADP and ACP tests, along with some of the more intricate rules associated with these nondiscrimination tests, like double-counting limits and shifting techniques
  • How to design a plan to avoid these nondiscrimination tests, the safe harbor 401(k) plan, and the many requirements applicable to such a plan
  • How compliance with ERISA §404(c) may help a fiduciary limit liability for investment choices made by participants
  • Different types of allocation methods and how different allocation methods satisfy nondiscrimination requirements - emphasis on permitted disparity allocations, though candidates will also see how non safe harbor plan designs may use general (rate group) testing to satisfy nondiscrimination
  • Cross-testing as a method of satisfying nondiscrimination requirements
  • The various types of distributions, including participant loans, available to plan participants along with the taxation and reporting rules applicable to such transactions
  • The ASPPA Code of Professional Conduct and ethical dilemmas that retirement plan professionals may face

It is presumed that a candidate sitting for the DC-2 examination will have the knowledge of the material covered in the Retirement Plan Fundamentals (RPF) series and the DC-1 examination. Please refer to the DC-2 syllabus for specific learning objectives and exam topic weightings.

Exam Details

The DC-2 examination consists of 65 multiple choice questions, and candidates have 2½ hours to complete it. Candidates will receive a grade immediately upon completing the exam. Exams are given at Prometric testing centers during the examination window. Please refer to the Education calendar for dates.

To register, a candidate must have an account with ASPPA. To create an account please click here. Candidates can register online or download the registration form and send via mail or fax to 703.516.9308.

Once registered, eligibility emails will be sent to the candidate. The eligibility email has detailed instructions on scheduling an appointment with Prometric. It is the candidate’s responsibility to schedule an exam. We strongly recommend scheduling an appointment upon receipt of the confirmation letter as testing centers fill up quickly. To find a Prometric testing center visit

Exam Fees - The registration fee is non-refundable.

  • To qualify for early registration, registration forms accompanied by the early registration fee of $251 for members and $278 for non-members must reach the ASPPA office no later than March 31 for the spring examinations and September 15 for the fall examinations.
  • To qualify for final registration, registration forms accompanied by the final registration fee of $334 for members and $361 for non-members must reach the ASPPA office no later than May 26 for the spring examinations and October 27 for the fall examinations.
  • The DC-2 exam is also offered internationally. The registration fees for testing internationally can be found on the Exam Fees page.

Estimated hours needed to study - Study time depends greatly on the experience level of the student. The average candidate reports it takes 60-80 hours study time per examination.

Grading Process - Notification for examinations will include a score of 9, 8 or 7 (passing grade) or 6, 5 or 3 (failing grade). A score of 3 indicates that no points were credited; rather, the candidate’s performance was below the minimum acceptable standards. The score report contains a topic listing which indicates “needs work” for any topic where the candidate scored less than 70% correct. Raw scores, spreads between scores, pass marks, pass percentages and copies of questions are not released. The ASPPA Office is permitted to provide grade information only in writing; grades will not be provided by telephone, email or fax. Candidates who wish to have their grades sent to anyone other than themselves must fill out a Grade Release Form.

Required and Supplementary Reading

All study materials can be ordered by using the online ASPPA Bookstore or by downloading the Publications Order Form and following the instructions to phone, fax or mail your order form and payment.

The required reading for the 2017 DC-2 exam is:

Recommended Reading:

Supplementary Study Tools

The study tools below are not required preparation for the DC-2 examination. They are offered as additional study aids.

It is the candidate’s responsibility to review all of ASPPA’s exam policies and procedures, which can be found on Candidate Corner.

Exam and Publication References & Errata

For updates to ASPPA’s publications and examinations please click here. Stop by regularly as new updates are posted. It is the candidates responsibility to check the errata before preparing for and sitting for an ASPPA examination.

Continuing Education (CE) Credits

Candidates who have successfully completed an ASPPA proctored examination can earn up to 20 ARA CE credits depending on the score received. Credits will be applied to the CE cycle in which the score is issued. For more information on ARA examination CE credit click here.

20 ERPA credits for successful completion of the DC-2 exam may be awarded.
The final decision as to the number of ERPA credits rests solely with the Internal Revenue Service.