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GED or High School Diploma? Comparative Analysis: Time, Cost, Acceptance

Are you interested in knowing which is better—a GED or a high school diploma? Well, wonder no more! After you read this article, you’ll have all the answers you need to make an informed decision.  

Today's is a competitive job market. If you are a working-age adult, you will need to have some academic credentials to compete well. Unskilled workers used to be able to earn decent wages and rise to the ranks of middle-class America. Well, thanks to a post-industrial economy, gone are those days. Today, the majority of good-paying jobs are not labor-intensive but are automated—i.e., reliant on digital technology. This means that if you are without credentials, you have fewer employment options than those with credentials. This can yield serious implications for you and your family for years to come. For more information on this topic, see the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Education Level and Jobs Report. The limitations you face are not restricted to employment either. Without academic credentials, your chance for enrolling in a vocational program is limited too.  Your chance of getting into college or joining the military is also compromised.

Therefore, the safest bet for securing your future is to get an education. Complete either a high school equivalency (HSE) credential or a high school diploma. If you have already left school, a HSE credential is for you. If you don’t want to attend high school, an HSE credential is for you. On the other hand, if you are still in high school and this path is working for you, stay the course and graduate. Either way, here are 3 important considerations you should factor into your decision making. First, consider how long it will take you to prepare for and complete the process.  Second, consider how much it will cost you to study for and complete the process. Finally, think about how accepted your credential or diploma will be.

GED

Time to Prepare and Complete 

It could take you from 1 to 12 months time to study for and take the test depending upon:

  • Your level of proficiency in each subject.
  • How much time you commit to studying.
  • How far in the future you schedule the exam.
  • How you choose to take the exam—i.e., subject at a time or all at once.
  • Whether and how many times you have to retake subjects or the entire exam.

Cost to Study and Complete

Cost to Study 

The cost to prepare for the test can range widely depending upon your preference. When choosing a method of preparation, put quality of education ahead of price and from there, select the best option for you taking into account all aspects of your lifestyle. Options include:

  • Adult education programs—i.e., night school.
  • Third-party print and online materials.
  • Self-paced, Internet study programs.

Essential Education offers the only GED approved, online program. This means that Essential Education has been recognized by GED testing service for helping you learn what is necessary for the GED by utilizing content-aligned study materials. Essential Education’s online program:

  • Covers all five curriculum subjects.
  • Aligns to the format and structure of the GED exam.
  • Provides actionable feedback on learning gaps and areas of proficiency.
  • Links to GED Academy lessons for further study (additional purchase may apply).

Are you ready to open doors to your future? Click here to sign up and take the GED Free Practice Test which includes a personalized tutor and free study plan. Or click here to learn more about GED Academy and start your enrollment today. 

Cost to Test 

Depending upon your state of residence, the cost per subject (4) could be as little as $3.75 or as much as $37.50. If testing on all subjects at once, the cost of the entire test could be as little as $15 or as much as $150. Fees paid include:

  • Your test and supplies.
  • Unofficial same-day results (for multiple-choice questions).
  • A detailed report of your performance per subject and your essay score (at a later date).
  • Up to 2 free retakes per subject.
  • Your transcript and diploma (once you pass all subjects).

Acceptance

This is a state test—i.e., designed by the state, administered by the state, and regulated by the state. However, entities that accept the credential may do so with some limitations. One of the most frequently asked questions is, “Can I go to college with a GED credential?”. The answer is, “Yes, you can go to college with a GED credential!” See below how widely accepted the credential is:

  • Accepted by 100% of vocational schools.
  • Accepted by nearly 100% of colleges and universities.
  • Accepted by 100% of financial aid authorities.
  • Accepted by nearly 100% of private and government employers.
  • Accepted by all branches of the military but may be subject to:
    • enlistment quota
    • stricter testing requirements,
    • lower entry ranking, and/or
    • college requirement.

HiSET

Time to Prepare and Complete 

It could take you from 1 to 12 months time to study for and take the exam depending upon:

  • Your level of proficiency in each subject.
  • How much time you commit to studying.
  • How far in the future you schedule the exam.
  • How you choose to take the exam—i.e., subject at a time or all at once.
  • Whether and how many times you have to retake subjects or the entire exam

Cost to Study and Complete

Cost to Study

The cost to prepare for the test can range widely depending upon your preference. When choosing a method of preparation, put quality of education ahead of price and from there, select the best option for you taking into account all aspects of your lifestyle. Options include:

  • Adult education programs—i.e., night school.
  • Third-party print and online materials.
  • Self-paced, Internet study program.  

Essential Education is the exclusive provider of this online study tool that:

  • Covers all five curriculum subjects.
  • Aligns to the format and structure of the HiSET exam.
  • Provides actionable feedback on learning gaps and areas of proficiency.
  • Links to HiSET Academy lessons for further study (additional purchase may apply).

Are you ready to open doors to your future? Click here to sign up and take the HiSET Free Practice Test which includes a personalized tutor and free study plan. Or click here to learn more about HiSET Academy and start your enrollment today.

Cost to Test

The cost per subject (5) is $10. The entire exam costs $50.  However, states and test centers may charge additional fees too. This exam is not offered in all states, so contact a test center near you to learn if the exam is offered and about additional fees. Fees paid include:

  • Your test and supplies.
  • Unofficial same-day results (for multiple-choice questions).
  • A detailed report of your performance per subject and your essay score (at a later date).
  • A cumulative report of your performance.
  • Up to 3 free retakes per subject per calendar year.
  • Your transcript and diploma (once you pass all subjects).  Individual states may charge an extra fee for printing of a diploma.

Acceptance

This is a state test—i.e., designed by the state, administered by the state, and regulated by the state. However, entities that accept the credential may do so with some limitations. A frequently asked questions is, “Can I go to college with a HiSET credential?”. The answer is, “Yes, you can go to college with a HiSET credential!” See below how widely accepted the credential is:  

  • Accepted by 100% of vocational schools.
  • Accepted by nearly 100% of colleges and universities.
  • Accepted by 100% of financial aid authorities.
  • Accepted by nearly 100% of private and government employers.
  • Accepted by all branches of the military but may be subject to:
    • enlistment quotas,
    • requirements,
    • lower entry ranking, and/or
    • college requirement.

TASC

Time to Prepare and Complete 

It could take you from 1 to 12 months time to study for and take the test depending upon:

  • Your level of proficiency in each subject.
  • How much time you commit to studying.
  • How far in the future you schedule the exam.
  • How you choose to take the exam—i.e., subject at a time or all at once.
  • Whether and how many times you have to retake subjects or the entire exam.

Cost to Study and Complete

Cost to Study 

The cost to prepare for the test can range widely depending upon your preference. When choosing a method of preparation, put quality of education ahead of price and from there, select the best option for you taking into account all aspects of your lifestyle. Options include:

  • Adult education programs—i.e., night school.
  • Third-party print and online materials.
  • Self-paced, Internet study program.

Essential Education offers an online study tool that:

  • Covers all five curriculum subjects.
  • Aligns to the format and structure of the TASC test.
  • Provides actionable feedback on learning gaps and areas of proficiency.
  • Links to TASC Academy lessons for further study (additional purchase may apply).

Are you ready to open doors to your future? Click here to sign up and take the TASC Free Practice Test which includes a personalized tutor and free study plan. Or click here to learn more about TASC Academy and start your enrollment today. 

Cost to Test

The entire exam costs $54 for 5 subjects. However, states and test centers may charge additional fees too. This exam is not offered in all states, so contact a test center near you to learn if the exam is offered and about additional fees. Fees paid include:

  • Your test and supplies.
  • Unofficial results for your computer-based test (multiple-choice portion) could arrive as soon as 24 hours from the date of testing or 10 days for your written test.
  • Up to 2 free retakes per subject.
  • Your transcript and diploma (once you pass all subjects).

Acceptance

This is a state test—i.e., designed by the state, administered by the state, and regulated by the state. However, entities that accept the credential may do so with some limitations.  A frequently asked questions is, “Can I go to college with a HiSET credential?”. The answer is, “Yes, you can go to college with a HiSET credential!” See below how widely accepted the credential is:

  • Accepted by 100% of vocational schools.
  • Accepted by nearly 100% of colleges and universities.
  • Accepted by 100% of financial aid authorities.
  • Accepted by nearly 100% of private and government employers.
  • Accepted by all branches of the military but may be subject to:
    • enlistment quotas, stricter testing requirements,
    • lower entry ranking, and/or
    • college requirement.

High School Diploma

Time to Prepare and Complete 

It could take you from 7 to 12 semesters* to complete high school depending upon: 

  • Your attendance.
  • Your education proficiency.
  • In what order you complete required credits, availability of classes, etc.
  • How much time you commit to studying.
  • Whether you can take extra classes some semesters (and finish early) or have to retake subjects in extra semesters (and possibly finish later).
* Includes early completion and extra semesters; average time to complete is 4 years.

Cost to Study and Complete

The cost of a high school education varies. Cost depends on your preference for public or private education. It will also depend on your academic prowess and your level of involvement. You may incur costs for tuition and fees (including college-prep classes, textbooks, technology, club memberships, sports teams, social events, etc.). Here is a broad overview of those costs. However, these figures are on the lower end and do not include estimates for senior year expenses, standardized college admissions test, transportation, lunch, etc.:

  • Tuition - $0 to $80,000+ per school year or $0 to $320,000+ for 4 school years.
  • Fees - $100 to $700+ per school year or $400 to $2,800+ for 4 school years.

Acceptance

This credential is accepted by all:

  • vocational schools,
  • colleges and universities,
  • financial aid authorities,
  • private and government employers, and
  • the military.

Research

Many research studies and opinion pieces have been published on the matter of which is superior, an HSE credential (GED, HiSET or TASC) or a high school diploma. Both tout positive and negative outcomes for either path based on statistical data from government agencies and private research firms. Nevertheless, the truth of the matter is this. Your biography is unique to you and you alone. Aside from forces unseen and those greater than you, you have a path before you to course. Having either an HSE credential or a high school diploma will never guarantee you entry into college, a job, or even a salary. Instead, these outcomes are the result of social circumstances first and your will and effort second. Life, as is said, is a game of chances. Decide what outcomes you want. Collect all the chips you can. Stack’em tall but steady. And climb as high as your drive and vision will allow. The only barricades that will be of consequence are those that you let turn you around. 

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