"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."
- Henry B. Adams
New to Home-School?
(Please note: We are currently building this page; and, therefore, some links are not yet available.)
Keystone Christian Institute (BuxMont Parent Educators) is not a diploma program. The information on this page is to help home-schooling parents identify the path they wish to follow in educating their high-school student. Most home-school parents are not aware that they DO NOT need a diploma provided by a diploma program for their high-school students to graduate from home-school and/or to enter college; and, they do not need a program-given diploma to access PHEAA financial aid.
As part of our research, we have contacted many prestigious colleges and universities, some of Pennsylvania's community colleges, and assorted state colleges across the United States. We asked them what they required of home-school students to enter their college or university. We were surprised that not one of them requested a diploma. Assorted things they requested were:
Not all colleges and universities requested the same things, so we highly recommend that you contact the colleges your student is interested in to ensure that you are prepared.
Some parents are also incorrectly informed that they will endanger their student's prospects for financial aid without a program-given diploma. As a home-schooling family you may access PHEAA financial aid with your superintendent's help.(See our section on PHEAA grants if you wish to secure your student's chances for financial aid without a diploma program.)
A lot of home-schooling parents wish to free-lance and home-school
their own style without extra, burdensome restrictions (of some home-school diploma programs) through the high school years. In cases such as these, you have four options:
Since the very earliest years of home-schooling, parents have always given their graduating students diplomas. This is still a very common practice nation-wide practice among home-schoolers. Pennsylvania is unique in that they have made provision in the law for a student's graduation from home-school. For graduation from home-school, a student needs to do the following subjects during the 9-12 grade years: (See law.)
Self- awarded (or self-certified) diplomas are not recognized, necessarily, by the state. If you award your student a self-certified diploma and need to access PHEAA financial aid, please see our section on PHEAA aid as a self-certified diploma will not qualify for PHEAA aid in and of itself.
HSLDA (Home-School Legal Defense) says they will back a parent-given diploma if the student's family was a member of HSLDA at the time of graduation and if they have completed the requirements listed in the law. However, if the student given a self-certified diploma continues into college, they can simply obtain a state diploma after two years of college (or thirty credits).
An HSLDA representative has stated that basically the only problem that students with self-certified diplomas encounter is difficulty at times (in some states) entering civil service.
We have created a free, self-certified, home-school diploma which you may print the following on parchment paper or special, bordered certificate paper (available from office supply stores like Staples) for your graduating student. Please note that this diploma is certification BY YOURSELF of your student's graduation and is not connected in any way to BuxMont Parent Educators, One Voice Choirs, or Keystone Christian Institute. You may also use the following links to obtain other items for your graduate - including a tassel (that all-important item) and class rings:
A very large number of parents award their own diplomas to their children. We contacted numerous colleges and universities in Pennsylvania to ask what they required of home-school graduates. No one we contacted requested a high school diploma. Because home-schooling is so popular, some didn’t even request grades or a transcript – only an interview with the student. Mostly, though, they would ask for college board (SAT or ACT) scores, a list of the subjects studied and grade scores (if available) , and/or an entrance examination. A local community college wanted a basic certificate of completion (which a parent can award) stating that the student has finished high school.
If your home-school graduate is heading for college, you may use our free transcript calculator and form, grade calculator, and the certificate of completion. Also, you may wish to read information on our Preparation for College page.
The third way is simply to procure a signed statement by the superintendent (upon completion of twelfth grade) on school district letterhead that verifies that the student has completed the requirements of graduation from a home-education program according to the home-school law.
We have developed a system that may make it easier for you to request this service of your superintendent. Please note that this system is not guaranteed to be successful in every situation, and we recommend that any contact made with your superintendent should be backed by your membership with HSLDA (Home-School Legal Defense Association). Your superintendent may not wish to use our system and may wish to only sign PHEAA's HSV (Home School Verification) form (see below).
If you are applying for PHEAA financial aid for college, the HSV form that they supply (when signed by the superintendent) is also recognition
that the home-schooled student has completed the PA law’s requirements for graduation (according to the representative of the PA Department of Education).
You can obtain an HSV (Home School Verification)
form from PHEAA after applying for aid using the FAFSA form. You may contact PHEAA for more information about it at Eligibility Review, 717-720-2800 or 1-800-692-7392.
You may also visit their website.
Taking the GED test upon completion of your high school, home-education program may help to secure your "graduation." Our mom doubled the proof of graduation for one of her graduates by giving them a self-certified diploma as well as having them take the GED.
For more infomation on taking the GED test, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.
Passing the GED test also makes you eligible for PHEAA financial aid. (Visit PHEAA's website for more information.)
Another way of getting a diploma in Pennsylvania is to join a state-recognized diploma program. To form a diploma program, a non-profit organization simply presents by-laws, etc. and forms a “diploma program” with the stamp of approval from the state. (To view this diploma program application, click here!)
People who sign up for these programs are funneled into having to structure their curricula and home-school program after the standards and procedures of that particular diploma program. Parents are told by some that they need to sign up for a diploma program by 9th grade. THIS IS NOT A PA LAW REQUIREMENT!!!! It is a common misunderstanding among PA home-schoolers that they need to conform to one of these programs or be diploma-less, which is not true. Also, some parents think that, unless they join a diploma program, they cannot access PHEAA financial aid. THIS, AGAIN, IS NOT TRUE. (To find out how you can access PHEAA aid, click here.)
Unfortunately, we have seen some undesirable fruit in regard to this pressure to conform to a diploma program’s requirements. We had one mother tell us, sadly, two years after her daughter’s graduation that the stress and pressure of conforming to the prescribed curricula of a diploma program damaged her relationship with her daughter. This mother felt the pressure of conforming caused her to pressure her daughter to conform; and two years after graduation they were still sifting through and trying to repair the damaged relationship.
(Some evaluators, also, impose extra stipulations which is one of the reasons why we created the evaluator questionnaire, so parents can determine ahead of time if the evaluator will put unnecessary burdens on them. See question #13 on our Evaluator Questionnaire.)
Yet, some prefer having a prescribed course imposed by a diploma program though high school. There is a list of state-recognized diploma programs at the PA Department of Education’s website. However, the oldest, largest, and most widely-respected diploma program in Pennsylvania is Pennsylvania Homeschooler’s diploma program which was started by Howard and Susan Richman. Although it is not defined as a Christian program, there is certainly complete acceptance of home-schoolers’ Christian texts and beliefs in their education, and they are very flexible in accommodating home-schoolers within PA’s home-school law.
Pennsylvania Homeschoolers has a necessary filter of not accepting prospective graduates after they turn 17 years old. This filter is important to a quality diploma, as there are some other diploma programs in Pennsylvania who, by accepting prospective graduates up to, even including, their senior year, are gaining reputations for having a “drop-out’s diploma.” Although we realize there are students that legitimately begin to home-school in the later high school years, there have been some instances where dedicated, hard-working home-school students have been shocked and disappointed to hear fellow diploma program graduates (drop-outs) bragging about how they were getting an "easy diploma." Most home-school parents work hard at giving their students a high-quality education. They don’t want their son/daughter’s diploma tainted with such a reputation.
Additional facts about state-recognized diploma programs:
Copyright © 2005 Keystone Christian Institute
We are not lawyers; and, while we have researched the PA home-school law in careful detail, we are not offering legal advice.
If you need legal counsel, you should consult a professional attorney or HSLDA.