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Diploma Program – Frequently Asked Questions

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Below is a compilation of Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to the MDHSA Diploma Program.

Purpose | Strengths & Characteristics | Cost | Why to use diploma programs? | My student has transferred from a public / private school and would like to continue to take courses through the school or community college. Will the MDHSA Diploma Program work for our family? | My student is attending our local Vo-Tech, but has already met the necessary requirements to graduate. Do I still need to file a homeschool affidavit with the school district? | Credit for employment / apprenticeship | My student only needs to complete one semester their senior year in order to meet the graduation requirements, and will thus graduate mid-year. Does the Diploma Program still require 10 pages of composition if they are only completing one semester in their senior year? | Can my student graduate in December? | My student has already met the necessary requirements to graduate, but wishes to continue their studies and graduate at the end of the calendar year. Do I still need to file an affidavit and complete 180 days / 990 hours? | Can a student get a diploma if they have already graduated? | How long can I wait to request / receive a diploma? | My child has already been accepted to college with a parent-issued diploma and transcript. However, PHEAA informed me that a parent-issued diploma was not eligible for financial aid. Do I need to enroll in a diploma program in order to receive PHEAA assistance? | My child applied to a Pennsylvania college, but we were informed that the school did not accept your diploma. | I started with the MDHSA Diploma Program, but never completed the requirements for graduation. Can I complete those courses now and still receive an MDHSA Diploma? | Can a student be registered in a public / private school and still complete some courses at home and receive a homeschool diploma? | How do I get started with the MDHSA Diploma Program? | How do I have transcripts sent to a college? | Is the MDHSA diploma accredited? Can my students get into college? | Can the MDHSA Diploma Program be used if my student has been homeschooled under the PRIVATE TUTOR PROVISION? | We are missionaries. Will the MDHSA Diploma Program work for our student?

 


For Frequently Asked Questions regarding the following topics, please click on the appropriate link.  A new page will open in your browser.


What is the purpose of the MDHSA Diploma Program?

In 1988, the PA Legislature passed a law governing home education in the state of PA (Act 169-1988), and in 1989, the PDE suggested that homeschool support groups would be the ideal organizations to award diplomas to home educated graduates.  A process for recognizing these programs as “substantially equivalent to a public high school diploma” was established, and MDHSA has filed the appropriate paperwork with the PDE to do so since in was incorporated in the 1990’s.

In order to earn a diploma from MDHSA, the student would need to have met MDHSA requirements for all of high school.  The standards and procedures are found in the MDHSA Diploma Guide. 

What are some of the MDHSA Diploma Program’s strengths and characteristics?

• MDHSA believes that the education of children is the parents’ responsibility and privilege, and that MDHSA should facilitate rather than dictate the education of students.

• Flexibility and a respect for families are the major strong points of the MDHSA Diploma Program.

• A family may choose to do “just the law” or a student may aspire to go the “extra mile” and earn an honors diploma either in Academics, Fine Arts, or Distinction.

• The student may graduate any time of the year, as soon as his/her coursework is completed and submitted to MDHSA.

• MDHSA allows students to earn a credit over the course of more than one year, if needed.

• A student may graduate in less – or more! – than four years.

• MDHSA makes every effort to work with the students with an unusual educational history. All grades awarded by a school will be accepted by MDHSA. The parent must provide a Transcript from the school to the Evaluator and MDHSA.

• MDHSA provides a professional looking diploma with the MDHSA seal and cover.

• The MDHSA administrator and the parent signs the diploma. This way, the parent does not have to return to the Evaluator for his signature.

• Transcripts are provided to colleges upon request.

• Transcripts are typed by the Evaluator using our forms on our website (or emailed to them.)  MDHSA receives the digital Transcript at the end of the senior year so information may be added, to clarify accuracy, and to make adjustments, if necessary.

• A Graduation Ceremony is provided in Chambersburg/Franklin County area, if desired to participate. Attendance is not required.

How much does it cost?

As of 01/2016:

• Registration Fee: $40 (one time only, NOT yearly)

• Diploma Fee: $45, and is not due until the end of 12th grade when the Diploma Request Form is submitted.

• Transcript Requests to colleges or for other use: $5 per transcript

Why do families choose to use diploma programs?

Diploma programs, as a separate entity, are not found in other states. However, homeschoolers in other states do use correspondence and distance learning programs, as well as umbrella schools, the GED, and parent issued diplomas. Below are some reasons families have chosen to use Diploma Programs.

• Cost is one reason families choose this option. The fees for most diploma programs run under $100 for the total program, as opposed to hundreds of dollars for correspondence/umbrella schools or distance learning.

• Flexibility is another. Correspondence schools and distance learning programs require families to use THEIR curricula in THEIR way and may require the family to hold to an arbitrary schedule or certain number of hours requirements, as well. Diploma programs (at least MDHSA) recognize that parents should set goals and choose approaches/methods/curricula.

• A diploma issued by a third party is something with which family members who do not support homecshooling can identify. For some families, this is worth the price of a diploma program.

• Some families like having someone else maintain transcripts and send them to colleges. There is no need to run to the notary every time a college or employer requests a transcript. Just send the transcript request to MDHSA and “they” take care of it.

• Many parents like the idea of a third party issued diploma, especially parents of students who are not attending college. Many employers simply do not consider a parent-issued diploma the same as a school-issued diploma.

• Many students delay pursuing a post-high school education for several years. A diploma from a third party can be useful to the student in obtaining employment during the interim.

• Financial aid for college is a major reason many families choose this option. In PA, only the following may receive financial aid under the State Grant Law:

  • Graduates from an approved high school
  • Students who have received a GED
  • Students who have a diploma program diploma
  • Students who have their local school district superintendent certify that their home education complies with the Home Education Law.

Some families are uncomfortable with having a superintendent “validate” their home education and would rather work with a home education organization made up of home educating parents, and not public school personnel. They also would rather have a beautiful diploma that they can display and use to prove that they have a diploma, if needed, at a later date. Students who receive correspondence school diplomas are not eligible for financial aid unless they have filed the paperwork required in Act
169 (PA Home Education Law) and are able to obtain a signed statement from their superintendent.

My student has transferred from a public / private school and would like to continue to take courses through the school or community college.  Will the MDHSA Diploma Program work for our family?

MDHSA guidelines require that any student who desires to earn an MDHSA diploma and is moving from a classroom situation into a home setting earn at least one full credit in a home education program, earned as the homeschool supervisor deems appropriate. (Special circumstances may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Diploma Program Director, Administrator, and staff.)

This requirement must be accomplished while in compliance with Section 1327.1 of the PA Public School Code, specifically that the parent have filed an affidavit with objectives, a portfolio is maintained, at least 990 hours or 180 days of instruction have been provided for the school year, and an evaluation obtained and submitted to the school district of residence. 

(Note:  If the student withdraws from public / private school midyear, the days spent in the school setting will count towards the total number of days required.  However, the student must still complete at least one full credit of a subject at home in order to receive an MDHSA Diploma.)

An Evaluator must certify that an appropriate education (defined as required subjects for the required amount of time) has occurred. 

My student is attending our local Vo-Tech, but has already met the necessary requirements to graduate.  Do I still need to file a homeschool affidavit with the school district?

Yes.  The PDE requires that an affidavit be filed for all graduating seniors receiving a homeschool diploma.  Compliance with the home education law is also required, and credits must be earned in a home education setting in order to be eligible to receive a MDHSA diploma.

Can my student earn credit for employment or apprenticeship?

Work that includes instruction and practice in unfamiliar skills can be logged as entries to earn high school credits.  All work experience should not be logged toward a credit.

In order to demonstrate that the work was a learning experience (as opposed to a familiar activity), listing the skills learned, how they were learned, and progress made is important.  The supervisor could create and/or sign off on the document.

Note:  Use only the portions of work in which the student is instructed and some amount of time where the student practices and attains mastery for earning a high school credit.

My student only needs to complete one semester their senior year in order to meet the graduation requirements, and will thus graduate mid-year.  Does the Diploma Program still require 10 pages of composition if they are only completing one semester in their senior year?

Yes.  Ten pages are still required.  Additionally, the student must be in compliance with the home education law (filed an affidavit, completed 180 days / 990 hours, maintain a portfolio, have an evaluation, and submit the evaluation to school district).

Can my student graduate in December?  Does the law require that I file an affidavit with the school district for one semester of home education.

Yes, December (or any time of year) graduation is permissible with the MDHSA Diploma Program.  You must still file an affidavit, meet the 180 days or 990 hours requirement, maintain a log and portfolio, obtain an evaluation, and submit both to the school district at the time of graduation.

My student has already met the necessary requirements to graduate, but wishes to continue their studies and graduate at the end of the calendar year.  Do I still need to file an affidavit and complete 180 days / 990 hours?

Yes.  The PDE requires that 180 days / 990 hours be met.  Additionally, the PDE does not allow any diploma program to issue a diploma to a student who has not filed an affidavit.

Can a student get a diploma if they have already graduated?

The student would have needed to be in compliance with the PA homeschool law.  Meaning, in their senior year:

  • An affidavit was filed with the school district
  • All graduation requirements were met
  • The student was evaluated
  • The evaluation was submitted to the school district

If the above criterion was met, then the student may submit the required documentation to MDHSA for consideration.   MDHSA must have:

  • All 9th-12th grade signed evaluations (or school transcripts, if a transfer student)
  • All 9th-12th Annual Summary Forms and Transcripts (signed by the Evaluator)
  • Registration and Annual Filing form and fee
  • Diploma Request Form and fee

How long can I wait to request / receive a diploma?

According to the PDE, diplomas may only be awarded to students who have completed their high school academic work prior to the age of 21 or the end of the school year in which the student turns 21. They must have filed an affidavit with their school districts each year that they were homeschooled, even for years in which their age exceeded the end of compulsory attendance.  MDHSA recommends that Diploma Requests be sent by August 31st or the latest by December of the year in which graduation requirements have been completed. However, MDHSA is flexible for any family who has had extenuating circumstances, such as a death in the family or other adverse situation.  Please contact the MDHSA office for special considerations.

My child has already been accepted to college with a parent-issued diploma and transcript.  However, PHEAA informed me that a parent-issued diploma was not eligible for financial aid.  Do I need to enroll in a diploma program in order to receive PHEAA assistance?

No.  You may obtain PHEAA aide by having your school superintendent sign a PHEAA form stating that you have complied with the PA homeschool law.  This is an acceptable alternative for receiving financial aid. 

My child applied to a Pennsylvania college, but we were informed that the school did not accept your diploma.

The MDHSA Diploma Program is recognized by the PA Department of Education as “substantially equivalent to a public high school diploma.’  Pennsylvania colleges are not permitted to outwardly reject the MDHSA diploma; it must be treated as though the student graduated from a PA public school.  If you experience problems with a specific PA college not accepting the MDHSA diploma, please notify the MDHSA office immediately and the staff will assist you in resolving the issue.

I started with the MDHSA Diploma Program, but never completed the requirements for graduation.  Can I complete those courses now and still receive an MDHSA Diploma?

The PDE does not allow a diploma program to award a diploma to a student taking homeschool classes who has not filed an affidavit or complied with the home education law.  An option would be to consider taking the GED.  Alternatively, if you have already completed one full year of college classes (30 credits), you may be able to contact the PDE to see about obtaining their form to receive a high school diploma.

Can a student be registered in a public / private school and still complete some courses at home and receive a homeschool diploma?

No.  According to the PDE, a student is not allowed to be enrolled in a public / private school and homeschool at the same time.  However, they CAN be in compliance with the homeschool law and simply take some selective courses through their local school.

How do I get started with the MDHSA Diploma Program?

First, purchase the MDHSA Diploma Guide (see information on this site) and read it carefully; it is important to understand what the expectations are of both the homeschool supervisor and student.  Do not submit any material until the Diploma Guide has been read and the Student and Supervisor (parent) have both signed that they have read the Guide and the Advisement and agree to abide by those guidelines.

Then, mail the Registration and Annual Filing Form and registration fee, along with all signed evaluations and Annual Summary Forms and Transcripts for courses that have been completed for 9th to 12th grade.

There is no need to register with the MDHSA Diploma Program until after the 9th grade evaluation. Registering at a later date is acceptable, if needed.

Copies of both the evaluation and the Annual Summary Form and Transcript must be received by the MDHSA office in order to be in compliance with the MDHSA agreement with the PA Department of Education.  No file will be opened for a student until the Registration Form and fee is received.

If the student has been involved in another diploma program, MDHSA should be sent copies of the completed Transcripts for that program.

If the student is transferring from a public or private school, contact that school to obtain a Transcript of academic work completed from 7th grade and up, in order to determine exactly what courses still are needed to fulfill the graduation requirements.

Send the transcripts to MDHSA along with the Registration Form and fee.

If you currently are not using an MDHSA Evaluator, you may ask your current Evaluator to complete the Evaluator Agreement on the MDHSA website, OR you may peruse the Evaluator list on our website to see if there is an Evaluator you would like to contact.

To obtain a hard-copy of the MDHSA Evaluator List, please mail a self-addressed stamped envelope to the MDHSA office requesting the Evaluator List.  Please note:  the most up-to-date list will be the list that is published on the website.

How do I have transcripts sent to a college?

An MDHSA graduate will receive one official completed Transcript with the diploma.

In order to have transcripts sent to colleges or other interested parties, students should complete a Transcript Request Form and submit the accompanying fee(s). Details and forms are available here.  You must allow two weeks turn around time from the time the Transcript Request is received and the time it is sent to the college. To receive confirmation that the Transcripts were mailed to a college, enclose a self-addressed stamped #10 envelope with “DP Transcript mailed” on the back.

Is the MDHSA diploma accredited? Can my students get into college?

No PA Diploma Program diploma is accredited, no matter what its name. All PA diploma programs have been given recognition by the PA Department of Education to award diplomas. No diploma program is an “official” PA Department of Education approved diploma.

MDHSA cannot guarantee a student’s acceptance to a college – there are many factors that determine admission, such as the difficulty of the courses the student has studied (college-prep, for example), whether a full work load was taken each year, or if only the minimum courses needed to graduate were taken.  Colleges want to see a student who has gone the extra mile.   A student is also more appealing to a college if he has been involved in several extra-curricular or work related activities to show varied interests and abilities.

Can the MDHSA Diploma Program be used if my student has been homeschooled under the PRIVATE TUTOR PROVISION?

A student that has been homeschooled under the Private Tutor Provision of the homeschool law may obtain a diploma through the MDHSA Diploma Program while continuing to be home educated under the PTP until the end of 11th grade. 

Then, by the beginning of the senior year, the student must be registered as a home-educated student under Section 1327.1 of the PA Public School Code.  (File an affidavit with the school district of residence and submit all of the required end-of-year paperwork, including an Evaluation, to the Superintendent.)

Also at the beginning of the senior year, the student should register with the MDHSA Diploma Program. When registering with the Program, the homeschool supervisor has two options: (Please note, for both options, it is also advisable to send MDHSA a letter from the superintendent approving the option to educate the student under the PTP for 9th-11th grades.)

 Option 1 – Have an Evaluator review the previous years’ records (including 7th and 8th grade, to ensure that the Minimum Courses have been met) and write a brief evaluation, awarding course credits where appropriate. The Evaluator should also complete and sign the MDHSA Annual Summary Form and Transcript (found on the MDHSA website). 

 At the beginning of the senior year, the parent should mail the following documentation to the MDHSA office:

  •  Diploma Program Registration Form and Fee (Please note on the Registration Form that the student was previously homeschooled under the PTP.)
  • Evaluation
  • MDHSA Annual Summary Form and Transcript

 Option 2 – The parent can create a Transcript, awarding course credits for 9th through 11th grades.  Then, transfer those courses, credits, and grades to an MDHSA Annual Summary Form and Transcript (found on the MDHSA website), signing both pages of the document.  This will replace the evaluations for 9th-11th grade.

  At the beginning of the senior year, the parent should mail the following documentation to the MDHSA office:

  •  Diploma Program Registration Form and Fee (Please note on the Registration Form that the student was previously homeschooled under the PTP.)
  • Parent-issued Transcript
  • Completed MDHSA Annual Summary Form and Transcript

 At the end of the senior year, simply submit the standard documentation required by the Diploma Program.

We are missionaries.  Will the MDHSA Diploma Program work for our student?

MDHSA has worked with numerous missionary families in the past.  If you have submitted an affidavit and objectives at the beginning of the school year, and filed your evaluation and portfolio at the end of the year, the credits earned that year may be applied towards those required for an MDHSA diploma.

Please contact the MDHSA office at diploma@pa.net for more information about what is required.

If you have not been able to comply with the home education law and would like third party verification of your student’s high school transcript, please contact the MDHSA office for more information, or visit the MDHSA Credit Verification Service Program for more options.

 


MDHSA does not discriminate against families on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin.

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