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New York
New York

July 8, 2016

For The Last Time: They Don’t Need a GED!

For The Last Time: They Don’t Need a GED!


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State policy problems nearly prevented two homeschooled graduates from receiving federal financial aid—until Home School Legal Defense Association intervened.

Tj Schmidt TJ SCHMIDT Contact attorney for New York

The difficulties arose this spring when a member family in Suffolk County applied for federal financial aid for their sons. They followed the usual process: they filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), reporting that each son had graduated from a home education program in compliance with New York’s homeschool law. (Both boys had started taking college classes while still in high school.)

Even though their sons were good students and had documented that they had graduated high school, the family received a letter from Suffolk County Community College (SCCC) saying they were not eligible for federal financial aid. SCCC’s financial aid office further informed the family that their sons would have to obtain a GED in order to be receive federal aid.

The college financial aid office needed to obtain clarification about federal eligibility due to the recent change in state regulation.

Straight Answer

After hearing from the family, HSLDA Federal Relations Director and staff attorney Will Estrada contacted the U.S. Department of Education, asking them to weigh in on the matter. Within a week we had a response. The U.S. DOE unequivocally stated: “A student does not need to meet eligibility requirements to receive state financial aid in order to be eligible for federal student aid.”

Estrada shared this information with SCCC’s financial aid office. He pointed out that our DOE contact offered to speak directly with the college, if necessary. SCCC then communicated with the New York Department of Education and passed along the response we had received from the U.S. DOE.

The next day we received confirmation that SCCC admitted that a GED or a determination of state aid eligibility was not required for federal aid eligibility.

While New York is still struggling to resolve issues of state financial aid when it comes to homeschool graduates, it is gratifying to know that the path to financial aid has been made a little smoother.