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  • Do Homeschoolers Need a GED?

    Do Homeschoolers Need a GED?

    By Lee Binz, The HomeScholar

    Avoid the GED® by Making an Official Homeschool Transcript

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Do Homeschoolers Need a GED?

I get asked this question a lot and the answer is no. As homeschool parents, you can provide a high school diploma. Your students are not dropouts and can be taught academics at home and receive a diploma when they graduate. 

Why Homeschoolers Do Not Need a GED

Does the GED® Have a Stigma?

Yes, there is a stigma with the GED®. The GED® implies a student did not complete high school and dropped out. It implies that the person needed to get a high school education without completing high school. A GED® implies “dropout.” A homeschool diploma confirms successful high school graduation. 

Meet your state homeschool laws for graduation. If no specific graduation requirements are stated, the parent may determine graduation requirements for their child, in consideration of normal educational requirements. It may include 4 English, 3 to 4 math, 2 to 3 sciences, 3 social studies, 2 foreign language, 2 P.E, 1 art class, and enough electives to add up to 19 credits or more overall. Standard graduation requirements vary widely between states and are usually less than the requirements needed to enter college.

Does the GED® Affect Income?

Yes, the GED® can negatively affect future income. GED® holders earn lower wages than those with high school diplomas. This is true regardless of sex, race and ethnicity, or age. GED® recipients earn $3100 per month on average, compared to high school diploma recipients who earn $4700 per month on average. People who do not have either a diploma or a GED® earn on average $2400 per month.*
Do Homeschoolers Need a GED for the Military

Do Homeschoolers need a GED for Military Enlistment?

No, a GED® is a detriment to military enlistment in the U.S. Homeschoolers do not need a GED® to enlist in the army because they are considered "Tier 1" recruits, equal to their public schooled peers. Many students with an alternative education have been successful in the military.  There are three tiers of enlistment:

  • Tier 1 – High school graduates (including homeschool graduates) or non-graduates with some college credits.
  • Tier 2 – GED® students. 
  • Tier 3 – Those with no education credentials. 
The higher the tier, the higher their starting salary when enlisted. Giving your child a GED® can harm their military future. It’s best to provide an honest homeschool diploma when possible. 

To apply for the military, your child must present a homemade homeschool diploma and may be asked to show your homeschool has obeyed local homeschool laws, including any documentation required by your school district (such as a declaration of intent to homeschool). Each homeschooler must also present a transcript. It must be clear that the parent directed the child’s education. A GED® causes unnecessary complications that can affect the student’s tier standing.

Do Homeschoolers Need a GED for College Success?

No, a GED® can negatively affect college success. Perhaps not the way you may imagine, though. Those with a GED® are less likely to experience college success. For people with a high school diploma, 73% go to college and 33% earn a college degree. Only 43% of GED® earners go to college and only 5% earn a bachelor’s degree. A college degree can dramatically increase monthly earnings. While you can debate which came first, the GED® or the ability to be successful, statistics show that the GED® does not make a successful student.*
Do Homeschoolers Need a GED for the FAFSA?

Do Homeschoolers Need a GED for the FAFSA?

No, homeschoolers already qualify for need-based scholarships. Having a homeschool diploma does not disqualify your student from receiving financial aid via the FAFSA. Once upon a time, colleges sometimes required a GED® from homeschoolers before providing financial aid. Since 1998, however, Congress has provided a better way for homeschoolers to demonstrate their "ability to benefit" from federal financial aid. The U.S. Department of Education's regulations explain that a student is eligible for financial aid if they were homeschooled, and "either (1) obtained a secondary school completion credential as provided by state law, or (2) has completed a secondary school education in a homeschool setting under state law."

What does that mean? If you are homeschooling within your state homeschool law, then your student is eligible for federal financial aid. There is no need to take the GED®. The law states that students who have "completed a secondary school education in a home school setting that is treated as a home school or a private school under state law" can receive federal financial aid. When you fill out the FAFSA, the government will decide how much financial aid you should receive. Your child can receive financial aid as a homeschool student and does not need a GED®. 

Do Homeschoolers Need a GED for College Admission?

No. A GED® required of homeschoolers means a college is not homeschool friendly. Get to know each college admission policy to determine if the school is homeschool friendly. Few colleges these days require a GED®. Most colleges see and admit homeschoolers regularly and are unfazed by homeschool transcripts.
Avoid the GED by Making a Homeschool Transcript
Click the Image and Learn to Avoid the GED by Making a Homeschool Transcript

Is the GED Useful for Homeschoolers?

A GED® is rarely useful for homeschoolers. If a college, employer, or military recruiter says a GED® is required, explain the situation calmly. A high school diploma does not need to be recognized by the state to be valid. A homeschool diploma does not need to be accredited to be valid. If someone tells you that your homeschooler requires a GED® and will not listen to calmly expressed reason, please contact the HSLDA.

Should I Give My Child the GED to Finish Early?

No. There can be negative unforeseen consequences in giving a GED® in order to graduate early. Sometimes parents want to get their child out of their hair since they’re being a pain and giving a lot of attitude. Or their child wants to be a ballet dancer and doesn’t seem to need a college prep education, so the parent thinks they’ll just give the GED® and be done with high school early. But ending high school without a clear plan for what comes next can result in your child turning into a couch potato at age 16. Hard work is worth doing and giving your child a shortcut like the GED® can result in them having unrealistic expectations of an easy path through life.
The GED Simply Explained

The GED Simply Explained

GED® stands for General Educational Development, General Education Diploma, or General Equivalency Development. The GED® was created in 1942 to help veterans coming home from war apply to college or gain employment. Now it's used to give high school dropouts a second chance. It is not necessary for students who have earned a high school diploma. 

The GED® is used to demonstrate a student knows as much as a high school graduate. In the U.S., students must be age 16 and not currently enrolled in high school. It costs about $100 to $150, depending on the state. The GED® is about 7 hours long. It tests math (including basic math, geometry, algebra, graphs and functions), language arts (including reading, grammar, language, and a written essay), social studies (including reading and analyzing historical events and using numbers and graphs for meaning), and science (including the meaning of science, experiments, and using numbers and graphs).

A Homeschool Diploma is Official

A homeschool diploma shows that a student has completed a high school course of study. It is valid under state law, even though it is not accredited. Accreditation is a tool used between high schools but is not a key ingredient in an official homeschool diploma. Not all public and private schools are accredited. 

While they may never be asked to show a high school diploma, adults will be asked if they have one. You don’t want your student to hesitate and say, “I don’t know, I’m homeschooled!” Instead, you want them to be absolutely certain their homeschool diploma is official. Present a high school diploma with pomp and circumstance confidently, so it’s a memorable event. A tangible diploma will help them remember their diploma is real and valid. In the working world, when the application asks if they are a high school graduate or have a high school diploma, the answer is YES. 
Do Homeschoolers Need a GED for College Admission?

Homeschoolers Do Not Need a GED for College Admission

When you begin to contact colleges, ask them about their policy regarding homeschool students. They should not require a GED® of your student. There are some colleges that allow a GED® as an option for those who do not provide either a transcript or portfolio. This option is intended to provide flexibility in the homeschool admission policy. However, allowing a GED® as an option is different than requiring a GED® as part of their admission policy for all homeschoolers.

What to do if a university is not homeschool friendly and requests a GED®

1. Discuss calmly with the admissions office. Try to create change for your student and other homeschoolers. Read Homeschool Friendly vs. Homeschool Fussy: How to Handle Troublesome Admission Policies and Recognize a Homeschool Friendly College.
2. Shop for another college, one that is more homeschool friendly. Colleges are increasingly learning that these sorts of policies are counter-productive and are changing them to be more accepting of homeschoolers. As homeschoolers in college become more common, colleges will feel growing pressure to take down barriers that discourage homeschool families. This is good news for families considering homeschooling high school. 

3. Consider carefully before having your child take the GED®. Choose this option if the university is your first-choice school, and no other college will do for your child.

Homeschoolers are not high school dropouts! Homeschool diplomas are recognized under the law, in accordance with state homeschool law, and are official. Homeschoolers can receive federal financial aid, like private and public school students do and are treated on par by most colleges and careers. Homeschoolers do not need a GED and your student can maximize their earning potential without it. 

9 Reasons Homeschoolers Do Not Need a GED

Recommended Resources

Homeschool Records that Open Doors
Can your humble homeschool possibly compete for college admission and scholarships with the academically-elite students coming out of intense college-prep high schools? Yes! Let Lee Binz show you how!
Homeschool Transcript Book
Learn how to craft homeschool transcripts and course descriptions for college admission and scholarships. Create beautiful, professional homeschool records to save and earn big money!! Give your homeschooler an advantage in the high stakes college admission sweepstakes!

Lee Binz, a veteran homeschool mom and best-selling author will come alongside with the tools, training and personal support you need to create professional homeschool transcripts and records that will amaze and impress colleges.

Copyright © 2019 The HomeScholar LLC, Text may be reprinted without permission if used in full, except for use in a book or other publication for rent or for sale. Reprint must include this copyright, bio (below), and the original URL link (

Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, specializes in helping parents homeschool high school. Get Lee's FREE Resource Guide "The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make Homeschooling High School" and more freebies: