A new regulation by the U.S. Department of Education is making colleges verify that the student’s high school diploma is valid. The regulation is an addition to the federal Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 that regulates financial eligibility for federal financial aid. The reason behind this new addition is the high number of defaults from students who graduated from diploma mill “high schools”. Homeschoolers are an exception to this rule unless they check the wrong box.
The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) reports that “The reasons for the DOE’s distinction between “high school diploma” and “homeschooled” are complicated and not entirely satisfactory, but this distinction is not new”. One can conjecture that if the law was made to prevent students with fake high school diplomas from getting financial aid due to numerous defaults that homeschoolers don’t have the same track record of defaulting on student loans.
This is news to me, because I assumed that colleges verified the student’s high school in the college acceptance process. If the college has high standards, they are automatically going to look at the quality of the high school the student went to; aren’t they? Regardless, there apparently has been an issue with students with degrees from questionable schools not being quite ready for college. It is students who are least prepared who do not finish college and so do not pay their college loans.
Meanwhile, it is very tempting, and often fun to give one’s homeschool an official name and call it a school, but for the sake of filling out financial aid forms, it is better to go no-frills. If homeschoolers make the mistake of checking the box that says “high school diploma” and then fills in the name of their homeschool instead of simply checking the box that says “homeschooled” they will risk falling under the scrutiny of having to prove their homeschool diploma is valid. While this should not happen once the student is recognized as a homeschoolers, the error could very well slow down their financial aid application and possibly cause admission issues.
While the HSLDA presented this information as a sort of warning, I find it to be great news. As I see it, the Department of Education sees homeschooling as a good and valid course of education. They don’t fear that homeschoolers will default on student loans and while they admit it or not, have faith that homeschooled students do finish college and pay back their loans.