Adult learners earning their high school credentials in Massachusetts can now take the high school equivalency exam for free.
The state has been covering the cost of the General Educational Development exam, or GED, since fall of 2022. Beginning this week, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education started covering the cost for the state's other recognized option, known as the High School Equivalency Test, or HiSET, according to a news release Thursday.
While classes for adult learners are free, earning the full high school credential requires that students pass a battery of tests, which could cost up to $143 per test, according to DESE. Officials say the goal is to remove the financial barriers for adults.
"You can imagine that there are some folks who forgo the tests for other basic needs," said Cliff Chuang, Massachusetts' senior associate commissioner of education. "This really is going to help remove that barrier and not be the reason someone is not getting the credential."
The move will cost the department about $800,000 per year, which will come out of the state's $60 million annual budget for adult education.
According to DESE, about 1 million adults in Massachusetts don't have a high school credential. Roughly 3,000 people attain a high school equivalency credential annually in the state.
Massachusetts' secretary of education, Patrick Tutwiler, said he hopes this move will convince more students to take advantage of adult education programming.
“I’m proud to see Massachusetts take this step to invest in our less traditional students, and I am encouraged that this will allow even more adult learners to earn their high school equivalency credential,” he said in a statement.
In 2021 about 9,000 adults in Massachusetts took a high school equivalency test. State education leaders hope that number will increase now that this additional cost barrier has been removed.