State board delays GED price hike

Photo by Brandon Kusz

Photo by Brandon Kusz

ATLANTA -- Georgians scrambling to take the GED test before fees increased up to $155 on July 1 now don't have to be in such a rush.

In April, the American Council on Education, which is the administrator of the GED tests, and Pearson VUE, a specialist in computer-based academic testing, began collaborating in a partnership to expand student access to GED testing nationwide and announced a new testing fee structure that could increase up to $155 for test takers.

The increases were set to take place starting July 1. The new fee structure called for $50 for each test -- the entire battery would have cost $250 if the five tests were taken on separate days. The expense would have been lower if two or more tests were taken together, and someone taking all five tests in a day could save $75.

Georgia's GED test-takers currently pay $95 to take the full battery of five tests that measure reading, writing, social studies, science and mathematics skills.

But recently, the state board that oversees the Technical College System of Georgia and its Office of Adult Education voted to rescind a planned increase in the GED test fees. The TCSG will wait until at least early next year to reconsider the cost, according to a press release from TCSG.

The GED Testing Service recently asked Georgia to postpone the cost increase, citing the need to resolve all operational and technical matters involved in the development and delivery of the computer-based testing model, TCSG said.

"The computer-based GED testing is an excellent program with great promise, but it won't be implemented in Georgia until we're fully confident that every issue with the new model has been worked out," said Beverly Smith, the TCSG assistant commissioner for adult education, in a press release. "In the meantime, we'll work to inform every adult learner that their test cost will not change in July as planned and encourage them to take full advantage of the test at the current fee level."

Renee Jones, executive director of Newton County READS, said in April that the increased fees will hurt many test takers in this economy, and this week, she said she was glad to see that there is now a little more time to prepare for the increase.

"They have a little breathing room now," she said.

Still, now she said Georgians don't yet know when the increases will take place.

"It's harder to not know when," she said.

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. Jones said the organization is offering summer classes this year, unlike in the past, because of the expected increases.

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.

It's estimated that more than 1.3 million adult Georgians are without a high school or GED diploma. Last year, almost 20,000 men and women in the state changed their lives for the better and improved their job opportunities by passing the test and obtaining their GED diploma, according to TCSG.

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 its website, www.dekalbtech.edu.

A list of all GED Testing Centers in Georgia and additional information is available at www.tcsg.edu/