April 30, 2002

Breakthrough for Young College-Bound Home School Graduates

After months of negotiations with the U.S. Department of Education (ED), Home School Legal Defense Association is delighted to announce a huge step forward for home school graduates who want to attend college but are under 17 years of age.

Several colleges around the country have refused to admit students who are home school graduates but are still technically under their state's compulsory attendance. Some institutions also stated they would admit such students only if they obtained a GED. These schools were concerned that they would lose certain federal benefits if they were to admit such students, or were to admit them without a GED.

For several months, HSLDA has been working on this problem with the General Counsel's office of the U.S. Department of Education and congressional committee staff. On April 19, the Department of Education, Office of the General Counsel, issued a formal letter resolving the issue. Federal law requires that colleges admit only students who fall into certain categories. One category is students who are "beyond the age of compulsory attendance." The ED letter explains that this category includes not only students who are beyond the age of compulsory attendance by virtue of their age, but also any student who has graduated from home education.

This means that any home schooled graduate, regardless of age, is beyond the age of compulsory attendance under federal higher education law. The result is that institutions may enroll such students, regardless of age, without fear losing eligibility for federal benefits.

In light of this, there is no longer any legitimate reason for colleges to deny admission to home schooled students of any age, or to demand that home schoolers obtain a GED. We anticipate that institutions of higher education will bring their admissions policies into line with federal policy.

The letter does, however, preclude colleges from accepting "home schooling" students that state considers truant (for example, high school dropouts who claim to be home schooling to avoid college regulation).

The Department of Education also states in its letter that a home schooled student may "self certify." In this context, certification relates to the process that is used to document or prove that the student has a diploma, or has truly graduated from home schooling. "Self-certification" means that the student himself-without the endorsement or verification of any school official or other third party-can "certify" that he has completed the home school program, and this is sufficient to establish the student's credibility and protect the institution's eligibility. In other words, once a student verifies to an admissions officer that he has graduated from home education, the admissions officer should not require any form of third party corroboration.

Because this is a very recent development, it may take a little while for word to get out to all admissions officers. Nonetheless, we expect college admission to go much more smoothly for students across the country who are home education graduates but are still within compulsory attendance age.

 Other Resources

Click here to see a copy of the Department of Education's letter  (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this document.)