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Missouri Asociation of Christian Schools

College Admittance and Financial Aid

Lighthouse Christian Academy is a private Christian Boarding school. Students receiving a diploma from this school are eligible for college admittance and financial aid under regulations of the U.S. Department of Education. The following information prepared by the legal staff of HSLDA may be helpful to those who may have questions about this.

Recognizing Home School Diplomas for College Admittance and Financial Aid

Student Eligibility for Financial Aid
Having personally authored the home school amendment to the Higher Education Act of 1998 and also worked with the United States Department of Education’s regulatory process on this measure, I can assure financial aid officers that home schoolers are eligible for federal financial aid without having to take an ability-to-benefit test or obtain a GED.

Here is how it works. Once accepted by a university, a home schooled student may be eligible for financial aid or an academic scholarship. When a college receives federal funds, its financial aid and scholarship programs are subject to federal regulations. In the past, these colleges instructed that, pursuant to federal law, home schoolers must take a GED exam or an ability-to-benefit test in order to qualify for federal aid.

However, this has all changed. In 1998, Congress created a third option for non-high school graduates to demonstrate that they had the “ability to benefit” from federal financial aid. Pub. L. No. 105-244, Section 483. This third option allows 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” to receive financial aid. 20 U.S.C. § 1091(d)(3). The U.S. Department of Education’s regulations restated the above law, explaining that a student is eligible for financial aid if he was home schooled, and either (1) obtained a secondary school completion credential as provided by state law, or (2) has completed a secondary school education in a home school setting under state law. 34 CFR § 668.32(e)(4).

Nothing else is required. Home schoolers no longer have to produce a GED. Furthermore, the Department of Education made it clear that home school students “are not required to take an ability-to-benefit test.” Federal Register, Vol. 64, No. 204, 64 FR 57356. Neither must their home school diploma be officially recognized by the state.

Congress has revised and clarified federal law affecting home schoolers. The U.S. Department of Education has changed its policy as well. Both point to a common principle: Home schoolers should be admitted to colleges and granted financial aid without having to take additional tests beyond what is required of traditionally schooled students. Ignoring a home school graduate’s diploma and requiring him to take a GED, SAT II, or ability-to-benefit test, while graduates from traditional high schools are not required to do so, is discriminatory. September 2002.

Prepared by the legal staff of HSLDA. Reprint permission granted.

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