ATLANTA -- Georgians wanting to earn a GED diploma may have to shell out $155 more than students currently pay.
The American Council on Education, which is the administrator of the GED tests, and Pearson VUE, a specialist in computer-based academic testing, are collaborating in a partnership to expand student access to GED testing nationwide. They recently announced a new testing fee structure.
Georgia's GED test-takers pay $95 to take the full battery of five tests that measure reading, writing, social studies, science and mathematics skills.
Starting July 1, the new fee structure will be $50 for each test -- the entire battery will cost $250 if the five tests are taken on separate days. The expense will be less if two or more tests are taken together, and someone taking all five tests in a day can save $75.
The GED testing fee increase for Georgia adult learners was formally approved earlier this month by the state board of the Technical College System of Georgia, which oversees the state's Office of Adult Education.
"The increased cost to take the GED tests could not be avoided due to the higher fees from the national test administrator," said Beverly Smith, the TCSG assistant commissioner for adult education, in a press release. "We don't want to catch anyone by surprise, and we'll be doing all that we can to inform everyone about this change."
Renee Jones, executive director of Newton County READS, a nonprofit literacy agency assisting adult learners, said the changes will hurt many test-takers.
"It's very confusing when you look at it," she said about the various price options. "Imagine if somebody is not ready to take all of the tests (at one time)."
She said many of the test-takers she counsels take the tests over several days.
"Can you imagine those who don't have the money?" she asked. "It's really horrible. In these economic times, literacy needs to be pushed. It kills me that so many people need it and want it and won't be able to afford it."
Centers are urging residents who are ready to take GED tests now to save money by taking the test before July 1. The TCSG Office of Adult Education will work with the staff at each of Georgia's 45 official GED Testing Centers to ensure that adult learners, their families and local communities are fully aware of the new fees before they take effect this summer, officials said.
Although the test fees are increasing, Smith noted that the state of Georgia continues to offer all other adult education and GED preparation services free of charge to more than 90,000 adult learners, and there are added benefits for completing the program and passing the tests.
"Georgia's adult learners can still receive individualized GED instruction, test preparation and readiness assessments and college and career advisement at no cost at numerous locations throughout the state, including on most technical college campuses," Smith said. "And, once they earn a GED diploma, the state presents them with a HOPE voucher that can be used to enroll at a TCSG college, which in turn opens the door to receive the HOPE grant."
Locally, Newton READS provides GED test prep services to those interested and also helps them register for the test and make choices about post-secondary education.
The TCSG Office of Adult Education is the statewide provider for the GED test. Last year, almost 20,000 Georgians passed the test and obtained their GED diploma.
Newton READS assisted about 20 adults in earning their GEDs over the last year, Jones said.
"Several students go along to a technical college" after taking the GED, she added.
Georgia residents who pass the GED tests receive a $500 HOPE voucher to help pay for their expenses at an eligible Georgia post-secondary institution. The HOPE grant, which is separate from the voucher, will pay for most of the state technical college tuition. To keep the HOPE grant, the student must maintain at least a 3.0 college grade point average.
Almost 1.1 million Georgians over the age of 25 are still without their high school or GED diploma. As many as four in five jobs will require some level of post-secondary education. Today's high school dropouts earn an average of almost $9,000 less annually than a person with a GED or high school diploma, according to DeKalb Technical College officials.
Locally, DTC offers GED testing at its Newton Center, which is located at 8100 Bob Williams Parkway in Covington. Registration and test dates are scheduled throughout the year. A complete schedule is posted on the school's website, www.dekalbtech.edu.
A list of all GED Testing Centers in Georgia and additional information is available at www.tcsg.edu/foradultlearners.php.
More information regarding the fee increases is available by contacting a local GED testing center or by calling Kim Lee, the state director of GED testing, at 404-679-4959 or emailing her at email@example.com.
Newton County READS plans to hold a fundraiser in May to collect money for residents who need help to pay for the GED.
"We've got to continue to look for funding," Jones said. "More students are coming in now -- they've lost their jobs and need their GED for a new job, and some jobs are requiring students get a GED to keep their current job."