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Beware of High School Degree Program Scams

high school diploma

Now that the kids are back in school, some parents may be thinking about doing the work to earn their own high school diploma.

The number of adults with a high school degree has been on the rise for the past several decades. Today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 88 percent of adults have at least a high school diploma.

The Benefits of a High School Degree

For those who haven’t earned the degree, there are clear benefits to doing the work. High school graduates are more likely to be employed than high school dropouts, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

They also earn more money. The median salary for a young adult high school graduate was 22 percent higher than for young adults who didn’t graduate, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

In other words, if you’re looking to boost your earnings and financial health, finishing your high school education is a great place to start. But, before you click on a “deal” or “opportunity” that comes through your email inbox or pops up in an online ad, do your homework first.

Common Diploma Scams

Fraudsters prey on people’s eagerness to earn their diploma. The Federal Trade Commission warns of four high school diploma scams that target those just trying to do the best for themselves and their family.

1. Get your diploma online -- right now!

If a degree program claims they’ll send you a diploma online after little to no work, it’s a scam. Legitimate high school degree programs will require weeks and months to complete. They won’t rely solely on online work and will never culminate in an online high school equivalency exam, the commission says.

There will be classes to attend and in-person tests to take. What’s more, all high school equivalency tests, which you are required to pass to earn that degree, must be taken in-person in a closed book and proctored setting.

2. Classes are free, but the diploma will cost you

No real program offers free classes but forces you to pay for the actual diploma. Expect to pay for classes or testing, the commission says. The cost to take the test, for instance, ranges between about $50 to $100. But that piece of paperwork -- the diploma itself? That should come at no extra cost to you.

3. It’s a federal government program

According to the commission, the federal government does not offer any high school diploma programs. Only states approve legitimate programs and tests.

4. Earn a degree with just “life experience”

A few states allow students to earn credits toward a high school diploma from work experience, the commission says. But, you’ll still need to take classes and pass tests to earn your degree. If a program claims “life experience” is all you need to become a high school graduate, run away. “It’s almost certainly a scam,” the commission says.

Legitimate High School Degree Programs

Where can you find the best sources of information about legitimate high school degree programs and tests? The commission recommends checking with your local community college or your state’s education department.

The American Association of Community Colleges’ website has details about college programs across the country. The U.S. Department of Education’s website lists contact information for state education departments.

Just like there are no get-rich-quick schemes, there are no get-your-diploma-quick schemes either. Earning your high school diploma takes work. But, once you add up all of the benefits, the effort will be more than worth it.

Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit committed to empowering and inspiring consumers nationwide to make wise financial decisions and live debt free. Speak with a certified counselor for a free debt analysis today




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