At the end of November, the U.S. Department of Education finally issued a formal letter to all universities clarifying admission of homeschooled students to college. Chris Klicka, Senior Counsel of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), worked with Jeffery Andrade, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Postsecondary Education, to produce this "Dear Colleague" letter.

 

The summary of the letter states, "An institution can admit most home-schooled students as regular students without jeopardizing its eligibility to participate in the Title IV, HEA [Higher Education Act] student financial assistance programs. The Department considers that a home-schooled student is beyond the age of compulsory school attendance if the State in which the institution is located does not consider the student truant once he or she has completed a home-school program."

 

This letter is an important clarification since it resolves the frequent problem associated with "underage" homeschool students denied admission to college. The letter makes it absolutely clear that students who graduate from their homeschool program before reaching the state's compulsory age can be admitted to a college without that college losing any of its federal financial aid.

 

In the past, homeschool students below the compulsory attendance age were able to receive federal student aid for college, but yet the Handbook stated that those same students could not be accepted into a college because the college would lose its financial aid.

 

The "Dear Colleague" letter also states that homeschoolers can self-certify their completion of their secondary education in a homeschool setting. No proof is required to be submitted in order to receive student financial aid. The letter can be found at the U.S. Department of Education's financial aid website at: http://ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/GEN0211.html

 

Federal Student Aid Handbook Revised

 

For the most part, the "Dear Colleague" pointed out the long awaited changes to the new 2002-2003 Federal Student Aid Handbook. This Handbook is sent to virtually all the colleges in the country and is accessible on the U.S. Department of Education's financial aid website.

 

Volume 1, chapter 1 of the Handbook specifically states that a homeschool "student is eligible to receive FSA [Federal Student Aid] funds if the student's secondary school education was in a home school that state law treats as a home or private school." It also states that "the Department considers a home school student to be beyond the age of compulsory attendance if your school's state would not require the student to further attend secondary school or continue to be homeschooled." You can find this section of the Handbook at the U.S. Department of Education webpage:

http://ifap.ed.gov/sfahandbooks/attachments/0203Vol1Ch1.pdf