Picture this: you've taught your child at home for years, and she has impressive SAT scores to prove it. She has been accepted at the college of her choice and you are packing up for the Big Day. Then suddenly her college calls, demanding she take the GED. What is going on here?
You call Home School Legal Defense Association asking, "how they can do this?" The legal assistant or lawyer asks you whether your child is at a school that accepts Pell Grants. Suddenly you discover that federal law requires each student receiving a Pell Grant to have a GED or accredited diploma.
The Higher Education Assistance Act (HEAA, 20 U.S.C.S. §1091 (d)) requires students who are not high school graduates to have the "recognized equivalent of a diploma." Government funds always carry government strings.
Some colleges and universities are insisting that all students must have a GED, whether or not they are seeking Pell Grant Funds. This demand is usually based on accreditation requirements from the accrediting agency for that school. It is not clear whether these accrediting agencies require every student to have a diploma or GED, or whether admissions officers are being overly cautious.
Families who want their children to be eligible for Pell Grants should make plans to take the GED. However, sometimes even this can present difficulties for young graduates since state law often prohibits students from taking the examination until they reach a certain age.
We encourage families to check with their admissions officers and financial aid offices on this issue well before the start of the freshman classes. If your school intends to require a GED you will need several months to locate a testing center, take the test, and receive the results. Forewarned is forearmed!