When Congress passed the 2012 budget bill last December, it eliminated the ability-to-benefit (ATB) provisions as an alternative to the high school diploma for the purpose of establishing a student's eligibility for Title IV aid. The ATB provisions allowed students to establish academic credentials for student aid eligibility either by passing an approved test, or by earning 6 credit hours or the equivalent coursework that are applicable toward a degree or certificate offered by the institution.
This change does not affect the eligibility of home-schooled students. Home schooling was never considered a form of ability to benefit, but rather an alternative in its own right to the high school diploma or its recognized equivalent.
The law now reads: "In order for a student who does not have a certificate of graduation from a school providing secondary education, or the recognized equivalent of such certificate, to be eligible for any [Title IV] assistance..., the student shall have completed a secondary school education in a home school setting that is treated as a home school or private school under State law."
In Dear Colleague Letter GEN-12-01, the Department of Education gave its interpretation of the revised law: "Therefore, students who do not have a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent (e.g.,GED), or do not meet the home school requirements, and who first enroll in a program of study on or after July 1, 2012, will not be eligible to receive Title IV student aid."
Therefore, home schooled students should remain eligible for aid, provided that they meet their state’s home schooling requirements.
Publication Date: 3/5/2012