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March 1, 2012

Does My High School Grad Need a GED
in Order to Receive Federal Student Aid for College?

William A. Estrada, Esq.
Director of Federal Relations

Will Estrada has been leading our efforts to defend homeschooling on Capitol Hill since 2006. He is a homeschool graduate who married a homeschool graduate. Read more >>

There’s an urban legend circulating around the internet. No, it’s not someone who wants your bank account info so they can send you $10 million for safekeeping. It’s a pronouncement that due to a recently enacted federal law, effective July 1, 2012, homeschool graduates will no longer be eligible for federal student aid for college unless they have a GED.

Just like every urban legend, there is some truth to it. Congress made significant changes to federal student aid eligibility in December of 2011. These changes are effective July 1, 2012. But homeschoolers now need a GED? Nothing could be further from the truth. Homeschool students were specifically exempted from the changes, meaning they can continue to receive federal student aid for college just like in the past.

Unfortunately, after some investigative work from HSLDA’s super sleuths, we have determined that numerous colleges and universities received this erroneous information from some education think tanks and organizations that provide guidance to college and university student aid offices. Without looking at the law—or even guidance from the U.S. Department of Education—certain colleges and universities simply told homeschoolers they will no longer be eligible for federal student aid unless they have a GED.

Congress made no changes to homeschool eligibility. What the law actually says is, “In order for a student … to be eligible for any [federal financial] assistance … the student shall have completed a secondary school education in a home school setting that is treated as a home school or private school under State law.” (20 U.S.C. 1091(d), as amended by Public Law 112-74).

HSLDA sent a detailed letter to the U.S. Department of Education. We explained the situation, and asked the Department to send guidance to colleges and universities. While the Department works on a response, we encourage you to send our letter (available here) to any college or university that tells you this urban legend. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education has put guidance on its webpage that makes it very clear that homeschool students are still fully eligible for federal financial aid.

Homeschoolers excel in college. Congress recognizes this and intentionally made no changes to the eligibility of homeschool students for federal student aid. Please let HSLDA’s Federal Relations Department know if you come across any colleges or universities that persist in claiming that homeschool students need a GED in order to be eligible for federal financial aid. You can reach us at or 540-338-5600.

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