Information Bulletin #1 - Higher Education Act changes HB 2732 - SB1562   10/27/2003

Did you know that:  A letter was written in November 2002 by the Department of Education to clarify the issue regarding college admittance and homeschoolers. The letter "Eligibility of Home-Schooled Students – Institutional and Student Eligibility" can be found at

http://www.ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/GEN0211.html

In summary, this letter states that an institution can admit most home-schooled students as regular students without jeopardizing its eligibility to participate in the Title IV, HEA 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. Enrollment of these students would therefore not jeopardize the institution’s eligibility. The Department of Education explains Title IV, HEA program institutional and student eligibility issues, but emphasizes that decisions regarding admission standards and requirements for students, including home-schooled students, are generally matters of individual institutional policy.  Additionally, this letter was accepted and understood by the people who are introducing changes to the Higher Education Act with HB2732/SB1562, and in fact they have stated it in their own issue analysis document of June 19, 2003; "Furthermore, institutions of higher learning that receive federal aid can admit homeschool graduates, at any age, without endangering their institutional eligibility. For federal financial aid, homeschoolers need only self-certify their homeschool diplomas."  http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/hslda/200306/200306190.asp

So: with regard to federal legislation that is being considered (HR2732/SB1562) the following section revision is totally unnecessary!

"SEC. 4. CLARIFICATION OF PROVISIONS ON INSTITUTIONAL AND STUDENT ELIGIBILITY UNDER THE HIGHER EDUCATION ACT OF 1965.

  1. CLARIFICATION OF INSTITUTIONAL ELIGIBILITY- Section 101(a)(1) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001(a)(1)) is amended by inserting `meeting the requirements of section 484(d)(3) or' after `only persons' . (b) CLARIFICATION OF STUDENT ELIGIBILITY- Section 484(d) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 is amended by striking the heading `STUDENTS WHO ARE NOT HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES' and inserting `SATISFACTION OF SECONDARY EDUCATION STANDARDS'."

This is one of several provisions in HR2732/SB1562 that purport to resolve a "problem" encountered by one or more homeschoolers in accessing certain institutional or financial benefits. While it may be true that homeschoolers have encountered difficulties from time to time, there are many ways to resolve problems other than litigating or instituting new federal statutory law. One way of resolving difficulties is through the use of persuasive precedent. For example, if one institution of higher learning implements roadblocks to allowing participation of homeschoolers, homeschoolers may easily obtain information and statistics from the multitude of other institutions of higher learning that have welcomed participation of homeschoolers. Those in the institutions that are reluctant to admit homeschoolers can be educated as to the benefits of admitting them and can be persuaded to do so, even if on a case by case probationary basis. Certainly, there are many support groups that are willing to provide information and assistance to those in need to help persuade the reluctant. These methods are being used successfully throughout the country on a daily basis. These methods also succeed in avoiding government regulation.

In addition, introducing the language of "satisfaction of secondary education standards" presents the idea that homeschool students should comply with the government's education standards. Homeschoolers are exempt from the No Child Left Behind Act. The mere suggestion of this proposed legislation as a reasonable requirement incorporates potential harms for our future freedoms during this time of testing to follow standards.

There have been many homeschoolers, as well as those under the age of 18, who have been admitted to many colleges throughout the country. If colleges or universities refuse to admit homeschoolers based on the fear of losing their grant eligibility then they should be educated about their error and be shown a copy of the Department of Education's letter. Homeschool support organizations could lend their influence by distributing information and attending instructional meetings with the administration of these institutions. These are just a few examples of how similar problems have been resolved. Even if other solutions fail, homeschoolers have the option of attending a variety of other institutions. Choosing to attend a different school is a far superior alternative than to resolve the problem by implementation of federal law.

 

Attorney Deborah Stevenson - Executive Director of National Home Education Legal Defense.www.nheld.com or email : info@nheld.com

Judy Aron - Director of Research, NHELD – imjfaron@sbcglobal.net