March 2009 by Lee Binz
GED Not Required
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 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. You can receive financial aid as a homeschool student, and you do NOT have to take a GED.
The U.S. Department of Education's regulations explain that a student is eligible for financial aid if he was 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.
I saw a movie the other day about a high school dropout. She wanted to get a good job, but wasn't able to without a high school diploma. She studied hard, and finally got her GED, proving that she had a high school education. It was a heart-warming story, but it illustrates one thing; a GED can have the stigma of "high school dropout." Many homeschoolers prefer to avoid that stigma. Homeschoolers are NOT high school drop-outs! Homeschoolers are recognized under the law, as shown above. Our homeschool transcript is a real transcript. Our homeschool diploma is official. Our students can receive federal financial aid, just like private and public school students. In the working world, when the application asked if you are a high school graduate, the answer is YES. If the application asked if you have a high school diploma, the answer is YES.
Calculate your EFC
How much money are we talking about? How much federal financial aid is at stake? You may want to use one of the free online calculators to determine your estimated financial aid. When you estimate financial aid with the "Expected Family Contribution" calculator, remember it does NOT include merit scholarships. Here are two suggested resources for estimating financial aid. College Board EFC Calculator FAFSA Forecaster
GED Requirement is NOT homeschool friendly
When you begin to contact colleges, ask them about their policy regarding homeschool students. They do not need a GED from your student. If they require a GED, you can bet they are not a homeschool friendly college. There are some colleges that allow a GED from homeschool students who do not provide either a transcript or portfolio. This is an option that colleges use to provide flexibility in their homeschool admission policy. However, allowing a GED as an option is different than requiring a GED as part of their policy.
Get to know the college admission policy to determine if the school is homeschool friendly. Few colleges these days will require a GED. Most colleges see and admit homeschoolers regularly, and are unfazed by homeschool transcripts. If you run across one that doesn't understand independent homeschooling, you should likely shop for another college, one that is more homeschool friendly. More and more colleges are learning that these sorts of policies are counter-productive and are changing them to be more accepting of homeschooler. As homeschoolers in college become more and 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.
For more information, you can read the explanation by HSLDA.
You can also read the law in Washington DC here:
1998 Amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965