Skip to content Skip to navigation

Alternative High School Diploma Policy

Alternative high school diploma equivalency has been an increasingly prevalent issue for USG institutions. As public awareness of the importance of post secondary credentials continues to grow, institutions anticipate these GED alternatives will become a more prominent part of the admissions process. While guidance has been drafted and provided upon requested by institutions, the absence of system-wide policy suggests inconsistent admissions standards for students with these credentials. Lack of policy may also act as a potential barrier to entry for this population.

The goal of this review is to address these barriers to access by clarifying how to interpret these alternative credentials. Included in this review is the USG Office of Academic Affairs, RACAA, RACRA, and the RAC for Adult Learners, and the completed for review by the Board of Regents during the March 2017 meeting.


Among other states, alternative high school diploma equivalency credentials are growing in popularity among non-traditional learners (see test availability by state). As more prospective students earn these credentials, USG institutions are confronted with the need to better understand the position of the USG on their equivalency with the GED, which is currently the only system-wide alternative approved to use for admission. 

The challenges associated with only permitting the GED were previously raised and addressed in a letter with guidance that was drafted by the System Office but not distributed to institutions. The guidance that the System Office has provided when asked by institutions regarding admission of students has reflected the letter, encouraging institutional discretion. However, it is unclear if there is consistent interpretation and admission across all institutions. In addition, as students research admissions requirements and these alternatives are not referenced, they may be discouraged from applying.


The issue the review will work to address is college access for predominantly adult prospective students and those admitted through Limited Admissions. Current policy does not provide institutions with flexibility to accept other high school diploma alternatives such as HiSET, and TASC. By providing additional clarity in policy and procedure regarding admissible alternatives to the GED for institutions, the System Office will remove a barrier to entry for a population that has been a focus for system-wide initiatives. 

During this review, additional research will be undertaken to determine whether policy and/or procedure should include specific GED alternatives or to allow institutions to identify acceptable alternatives. If left to the discretion of institutions, variations in acceptable alternatives may create issues with students who transfer.


As part of this policy review the following policies and procedures are under consideration for revision:

  • BOR Policy Manual
    • Exceptions to Freshman Admission Requirements for Special Groups of Students
    • Non-Traditional Students
    • Admission of Auditors
  • Academic and Student Affairs Handbook
    • 3.2.1 High School Graduation
    • 3.2.6 Special Admission


This review will begin with an internal working group with representation from Academic Affairs to create an initial draft of recommended policy and procedure changes and guidance for institutions. These materials will be reviewed by RACAA, RACRA, and the RAC for Adult Learners during the fall in preparation for an initial preview and reviewed for Board approval in spring 2017.