How to get into college with a GED

You can go to college with a GED. Practically all colleges and universities accept students with a GED diploma or certificate (depending on your state).

Here is a full explanation of how it works, what you need to do, step by step, to get into college after receiving your GED credential.

Pass The GED in 2 months.

Learn Just 1 Hour a Day.
It doesn’t matter when you left school.

First of all, let’s make it clear that, for many people, the GED diploma is the umbrella term for all High School Equivalency tests such as the GED® or HiSET® exam. The TASC is no longer offered.

If a student passes the GED or HiSET exam, he or she will get a High School Equivalency diploma or certificate, depending on the state.

This credential is also often referred to as the GED diploma and it has the same value as a common high school diploma.

During the past 3 years, as many as 35% of all GED graduates have signed up for college courses within a year of earning their GED diploma.


We recommend the Online GED Program from Onsego. It’s Simple, Fast & Easy. Onsego Provides Everything You Need to Pass Your GED.
Get Started.

Over 45% have gone to college within 3 years after getting their GED, says GED Testing Service.

These stats are encouraging and what’s more, GED grads are persistent and 90% of them graduate from college.

GED to college

Students studying for a GED diploma with the purpose of going to college should be aware of a few things.

In general, colleges accept GED diploma holders, but you might be asked to submit ACT or SAT scores or pass a state-specific college entrance exam such as the PERT (Florida) or the TSI Assessment (Texas).

However, if you receive a high GED score, you may not need to take the ACT or SAT or another placement test.

4 levels of GED test scores

The GED subtests are scored on a 100-200 scale. There are four scoring levels:

Level 1: 100-144 Below passing score
Level 2: 145-164 High school equivalency passing score
Level 3: 165-174 College-ready passing score
Level 4: 175-200 College-ready plus credit passing score

Read more about GED scoring here.

College-Ready GED scores

Students scoring in the level-3 and 4 categories at the GED test will often see the requirement to take a college placement test such as the ACT or SAT waived. Click on the link to learn more.

They will usually (depending on the school) be able to sign up for college courses without any further prerequisites.

So levels 3 and 4 are called GED College-Ready scores. If you think about joining the U.S. Air Force with a GED, learn more here.

College-Ready plus credits GED score

When a student scores in the 175-200 category, she or he will additionally receive up to 10 college credits. If you, for example, think about becoming a doctor, that may help you save time and money in college.

That’s a lot of credits! Usually, you’ll need to average 15 credits per semester. So, if you get 10 credits thanks to your GED exam results, you are a winner.

So the GED is a true high school equivalency credential today. It’s worth getting solid preparation for the GED test and scores into the GED College-Ready with credits range.

Level 2 GED score + ACT or SAT

Students with a high school equivalent GED passing score (145-164) can, of course, apply to college as well. Learn all about the GED application process here.

But, usually, they will have to take a college placement test (SAT, ACT, or a state-specific entrance exam) and attend remedial coursework before they are allowed to enroll in credit-bearing college programs.

Retaking the GED test for a better score

If you are not happy with your GED scores, you can always take the entire exam or those subject tests that you want to improve your scores for, again, even if you already hold the GED diploma. Better scores might get you into college right away!

To get a better score for Math, make sure you’ll understand how to make an educated guess on the GED Math module.

Applying to college with a GED

So you’ve passed the GED exam and want to continue your education in college. There are states that use the HiSET as an alternative option to the GED which gives you the same possibilities. Isn’t that fantastic?!

Well, applying to your favorite college might be a bit intimidating, particularly if you don’t come from a college tradition family. Perhaps tutoring will help you attain good GED scores and it will also be helpful to learn how to write a good application essay.

There are colleges that ask you to write an essay and submit letters of recommendation. So you better make a to-do list and schedule your tasks involved in the college application process.

Just like high school students, you should keep college application dates in mind. Many colleges have early decision deadlines that usually are in November. If you apply through early decision (ED), you’ll get an answer sooner than those students who turn in their applications later.

If it has been a few years since you earned your GED, you may want a copy of your GED diploma. In this post, you can read all about how to do that.

Keep also in mind that if you make sure your GED vocabulary is okay, you will understand the questions better and faster, you will probably come up with more correct answers, and your score report will be far better!

Early decision (ED)

Generally, ED admission decisions come out as early as December. Keep in mind, though, that an ED acceptance is binding, meaning that when you are accepted, you must enroll at that school. So you must be very certain about your choice if you want to choose Early Decision.

Some colleges additionally have a second ED (early decision) deadline, the ED II, which also leads to a binding acceptance. It’s just that the deadlines are generally in January and ED II acceptance decisions usually come out as early as February.

Then there is the Early Action (EA) application with deadlines generally in November or December. Here as well, you will get a response from the school sooner than other applicants but Early Action application doesn’t lead to binding acceptance.

Whichever you decide to do, just make sure you’ll be on your way to earn your bachelor’s degree fast at the college you prefer.

Regular decision

You may also opt to apply to school by its regular decision deadline, usually January 1. If you choose to follow this application path, you’ll usually get a response in March or April.

In general, students have through April 30 to decide about the school they are going to attend. Then, making an enrollment deposit will be required.

Then there are schools that work with rolling admissions. These institutions will evaluate applications as they come in and decide about admissions on an ongoing basis.

Usually, these schools will accept ongoing applications until all available spots are filled. Your GED will get you into a community college which will be a great stepping stone toward further academic achievement.

College application platforms

There are some very popular college application platforms. Very often, students use “The Common App”, a platform that is accepted by over 750 schools.

You can simply fill out the Common App form and use that for application to multiple colleges. Keep in mind, though, that not all schools accept the Common App (for example, MIT, Georgetown University, DC).

But there are more application options such as the Coalition Application, the Universal College Application, and many colleges and universities use their own application systems.

The University of California system, for example, accepts only applications via its own application platform but you can apply to multiple UC campuses with just one application.

Financial aid

One aspect to keep in mind when deciding about when you should apply and the number of schools you want to apply to is the financial aid implication. For a large number of families with college-bound students, money is a great concern.

If that’s the case, opt for nonbinding deadlines (EA and regular decision). This will allow you to compare financial aid options at multiple schools.

Step-by-step college application Guide

1. FASFA

Start with completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. Quite a few schools rather have limited funds, so please make sure you apply in a timely manner. The U.S. Government provides over $120 billion annually to help students pay for their college or career education.

2. Common app

Use the Common App. Fill out the requested information in the app and submit your application to the colleges you’re interested in. Please note that several schools do not use the Common App and use their own application processes. Often schools that use the Common App have supplemental questions and that’s shown on the App.

3. College essay

Now, you need to write a great College Essay! Colleges generally require incoming students to submit an essay as part of the application process. Sometimes, this is referred to as a student’s personal statement.

Usually, there’s a word limit of a few hundred words. On the Common App, for instance, your essay is limited to 650 words. You should tell a story about yourself without bragging about big, impressive accomplishments. You can read more about how to make an outstanding college application essay on this page.

4. Recommendation letters

Ask for Recommendation Letters. Often, colleges ask incoming students to submit a couple of recommendation letters. So if you can, find a few recommenders.

You may contact former teachers or school counselors and tell them about your GED experience and scores. Impress them and ask if they will write a letter of recommendation. Make sure you request these letters well before the application deadlines.

5. Tuition and application cost

Learn about college tuition costs and the financial aid possibilities at your preferred colleges. Keep also in mind that college application fees will cost you dearly as well.

In general, they range between $50 and $100 per individual application so if you’ve applied to multiple schools, they can really add up. Bear in mind, though, that many students may qualify for a fee waiver. There are quite a few schools today that waive application fees and not only for low-income applicants.

6. Scholarships

Now it’s time to go hunting for scholarships to pay for your college education. Check out the internet and you’ll be surprised as to how many scholarships are available to so many different people. There are numerous scholarships for minorities.

What if you have low GED scores?

How to get accepted without a GED College-Ready or College-Ready + Credit score?

First, check how your GED scores compare to a GPA though a comparison is hard to make. It could well be that you are required to submit SAT or ACT scores. There are also states that use their own state-specific college entrance exams.

Do you have to submit a resume?

Usually not. Most colleges no longer require incoming students to submit resumes but sometimes, your favored college may ask you to do so. Most of the information is generally already included in the application form.

Your resume should include work experience, extracurricular activities, or awards. You should include details of the way you spend your time outside of the classroom with activities like school clubs, sports, and family obligations, and activities such as caring for family members. Maybe you will be invited for an application interview. On this page, you can learn how to prepare best for that.

Verification of GED diplomas

Colleges can easily verify GED diplomas received from students by using the trustworthy Parchment Services that work together with GED Testing Service to provide digital GED diplomas transcripts and avoid unlawful admissions.

They do not provide a verbal verification or any other verification, only digital transcripts that are using secure Blue Ribbon delivery technology.

These digital secure Smart Transcripts offer also explanations and evaluations of the GED diplomas. Parchment works with academic and non-academic institutions. So, you should earn your credentials in the right way and avoid any scams!

To summarize

Having a GED Diploma instead of a High School Diploma is not an obstacle to get to college. There are many colleges and universities that accept GED College-Ready scores.

It’s important to remember that the GED is not easy and proper preparation is required before testing. You can find local preparatory programs to support you to complete the questions correctly and boost your skills, and online courses are also great options to get a job with decent pay.

Online learning for the subjects of the GED (General Education Development) tests can be done on your own schedule so you can prepare your official adult education degree in the day or at night, whenever it suits you best.

People with a GED have better careers than people without a high school or equivalent degree and will earn at least $9,600 more annually on average.

If you spend some time getting ready for the GED Test and you receive the GED College-Ready Plus Credit score, you get even a better deal than the average high school graduate.

Last Updated on December 28, 2021.