Kentucky will start waiving testing fees for people wanting to obtain a GED diploma to help thousands of adults improve their career opportunities, Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday.
The Education and Workforce Development Cabinet has allotted $600,000 in state funding to waive test fees to eliminate a financial barrier for people seeking GED diplomas, Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman announced.
In Kentucky, more than 335,000 adults lack a high school or GED diploma. In Letcher County, a quarter of all adults have not completed high school, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Cindy Blair, coordinator of the GED program at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College Whitesburg Campus, said the waiver of test fees is a good thing for people here and statewide. The test was free for a while, but it hasn’t been since about 2014.
The fee being waived is $120, and the waiver applies to first-time test takers.
“It can be tough on some people. Sometimes we can spread it out, so it’s not so bad,” she said.
If someone fails the test, it costs $10 per section to retake it. For first-time testers, the fee is $30 per section, which is waived under the new state program.
Blair said some people already qualify for help with the fee, particularly those who received Food Stamp (SNAP) benefits, and the college has some vouchers for others, but some people have to come up with the money themselves.
The funding could help about 5,000 Kentuckians secure GED diplomas this year, Beshear said. Many people lacking a high school or GED diploma are “stuck in a cycle where they can’t get the job to have the dollars to pay the fees for the GED they need to get a better job,” he said.
“By eliminating this barrier, by making sure that no one is denied the opportunity to take the test because of the fees that go along with it, we are going to help so many adults,” he said.
Adults lacking high school or GED diplomas are twice as likely to be unemployed and three times as likely to live in poverty, Coleman said.