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January 24, 2017

Colleges: Are You a Real Homeschool Graduate?

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Home School Legal Defense Association intervened recently when a pair of Florida colleges initially refused to accept the credentials of graduates who had homeschooled under the private umbrella school law.

Tj Schmidt TJ SCHMIDT Contact attorney for Florida

As you know, under Florida law homeschool parents have several options for teaching their children at home. While many parents choose to report to their local school district, others use a private umbrella school that is registered with the Florida Department of Education. These students report only to their private school administrators. Even though they are being homeschooled by their parents, they are technically considered private school students under state law.

Admissions officials at these two colleges apparently were not as comfortable with the private school option, because they requested additional documentation from each graduate.

Hillsborough Community College told an HSLDA member family’s son he would have to provide a homeschool affidavit and verification that his parents had registered with the county. Otherwise, the admissions office said, he would have to get a GED.

Palm Beach State College issued similar demands to another homeschool graduate.

Both young men had already submitted transcripts and proof that they had homeschooled under private umbrella schools, a perfectly legitimate and legal option in Florida.

I wrote a letter on behalf of both young men explaining that they were homeschool graduates and providing information about the legal option that their parents homeschooled them under.

Palm Beach State College quickly contacted me after receiving the letter and confirmed that they were admitting the young man as a homeschool graduate using the private umbrella school option. They acknowledged that their main concern was determining that he was in fact a homeschool student, and once they were able to do that, they welcomed him with open arms. Hillsborough Community College also admitted the young man after receiving our letter—without having him take the GED.

Past Problems

The difficulties these young men faced is not without precedent.

While the private umbrella school is a perfectly legitimate option under Florida law, it can occasionally cause additional questions when it comes to college enrollment. Many of these questions are related to the fact that the U.S. Department of Education cracked down on private school graduates and federal financial aid back in 2012.

One reason for this extra scrutiny is concern about diploma mills certifying completion of high school without students actually completing the necessary credits. These issues have arisen in several states where children may be homeschooled under a private school option.

Another issue is that under Florida law, a home education student is required to be treated as a high school graduate by all schools within the Florida College System institutions. Many state colleges will have a parent sign an affidavit attesting that they complied with the home education law.

While parents who homeschooled their student under a Florida private umbrella school cannot sign the home education affidavit, we provide a alternate affidavit for our members, which confirms that they have complied with the private umbrella school law and that their child is just as much a homeschool graduate. The affidavit is available by request.