Applying to College

The transcript itself, if it’s just the name of a class and a grade, doesn’t mean much. That’s why colleges like to have an attached course description. It can be as simple as the name of the textbook and the topics covered in it, or it can be a more detailed list of books read, projects, and field trips.

It’s most important to call the admissions office of the school and ask them what they would like to have submitted. Explain that you’re sorry you are calling instead of the student, but because your child is homeschooled, you are the principal and guidance counselor and need to know what to prepare. It can be very helpful if you offer what you can give them first, rather than wait for the school to demand various things. Say that you are prepared to send in a transcript with (or without) grades, a brief course description of the classes your student took, and letters of recommendation. You might not have letters from, say, a math teacher and an English teacher, but you should offer what you do have, (maybe letters from an employer, volunteer director, sports coach, theater director). These days, colleges are very happy to hear from homeschoolers, but the specialized colleges (such as art schools) and trade schools often don’t quite know what to do with homeschoolers and ask for things that don’t exist (like a school district’s write up of your high school program).

You should know that colleges are not allowed to ask that the student take a GED to be accepted to receive financial aid. They are often confused about this. Refer them to the “Dear Colleague letter” Among other things in this letter from the U.S. Department of Education is the statement:”With regard to documenting a home-schooled student’s completion of secondary school in a home-schooled setting, an institution may accept a home-schooled student’s self-certification that he or she completed secondary school in a home school setting, just as it may accept a high school graduate’s self-certification of his or her receipt of a high school diploma.”
Sample Self-Certification of Secondary School Completion

Recent Confusion about Certification of High School Completion

We are hearing of colleges asking that homeschooled students submit a state or school district issued high school graduation credential, a certificate of completion from the local school district or state board of education, or proof that they have met the requirements of their state for graduation for homeschool students with their application. Colleges may set any admission requirements they like, but they usually set the requirements for homeschooled students with federal student aid guidelines in mind. They want to make sure all students will be able to comply if need be.

Because of recent changes in the Federal Student Aid handbook, college admissions offices have gotten confused between states that do issue such credentials and states that do not. New Hampshire does not.

There are no specific requirements for graduation for homeschoolers in New Hampshire and New Hampshire issues no high school completion credential. New Hampshire homeschoolers “self-certify.” Sample Self-Certification of Secondary School Completion

The Federal Student Aid Handbook states:
Though homeschooled students are not considered to have a high school diploma or equivalent, they are eligible to receive FSA funds if their secondary school education was in a homeschool that state law treats as a home or private school. Some states issue a secondary school completion credential to homeschoolers. If this is the case in the state where the student was homeschooled, she must obtain this credential in order to be eligible for FSA funds. She can include in her homeschooling self-certification (see above) that she received this state credential.

Since New Hampshire does not issue a secondary school completion credential, you do not need to submit one. You may need to cite this part of the Federal Handbook to the admissions counselors at the college.

On page 6, under Academic Qualifications, you will see
To receive FSA funds, a student must be qualified to study at the postsecondary level. A student qualifies if she:
• has a high school diploma (this can be from a foreign school if it is equivalent to a U.S. high school diploma);
• has the recognized equivalent of a high school diploma, such as a general educational development or GED certificate; or
• has completed homeschooling at the secondary level as defined by state law.
A student may self-certify on the FAFSA that he has received a high school diploma or GED or that he has completed secondary school through homeschooling as defined by state law. If a student indicates that he has a diploma or GED, your school isn’t required to ask for a copy (except as noted below), but if your school requires a diploma for admission, then you must rely on that copy of the diploma or GED and not on the student’s certification alone.


You see that you may self-certify completion of high school through homeschooling as defined by state law. You may find that you need to explain how the New Hampshire homeschooling law works and that federal requirements do not ask for these credentials from New Hampshire students, and that New Hampshire is a “self-certifying” state.

The New Hampshire Department of Education has placed an explanation on their website You may find it helpful to direct admissions officers to this page.