Elaine Glenn has already seen an increase in the number of students pushing to take the GED exam before July 1.
Glenn, lead instructor of the GED and ESL programs at Lanier Technical College’s Forsyth campus, said more people are coming in “so they can beat the deadline” before the cost to take the test increases.
“We do find that people are hurting in this economy and there are many people that are unemployed and don’t have the funds for the GED test,” Glenn said. “We’re going to be looking at everything we can do to make it easier.”
General Educational Development test-takers currently pay $95 for the full battery of five tests that measure reading, writing, social studies, science and mathematics.
Starting July 1, the new fee structure will be $50 for each test, meaning the entire battery will cost $250 if the five tests are taken on separate days.
The expense will be lower if two or more tests are taken together. Someone taking all five tests in a day can save $75.
The state board of the Technical College System of Georgia, which oversees the state's Office of Adult Education, approved the increase during its April 7 meeting in Atlanta.
"The increased cost ... could not be avoided due to the higher fees from the national test administrator," said Beverly Smith, the technical college system's assistant commissioner for adult education.
Lanier Tech offers the program only in two-day increments, but Glenn said finding ways to offer all five in one day is something officials will explore.
Lanier Tech’s campus is the only place in Forsyth County that students can take the GED.
But the program does more than offer tests.
Those who never completed high school, from all walks of life, can come in, get assessed and be placed on a program to help them learn the required material in order to pass the GED, all at no cost.
The program has been such a success, as many as 400 students are enrolled at any given time. About 150 students a year pass the exam, Glenn said.
She said the reason why the pass rate isn’t higher is because “studying for the GED test does get put on the back burner because life gets in the way.”
“They want it, but they have families and it’s hard to spend time preparing for the test,” she said. “But the benefits are so great of having their GED.
"Their life improves, the quality of their life improves ... there are just so many benefits to them and advantages of going through this study program.”
Glenn said several students have had a difficult time paying to take the GED exam at the current price.
“Some people, when they hear the $95 fee now will say things like, ‘Well, I’m going to have to wait a couple of weeks for my paycheck, or I’m going to have to wait until I get a job,'” she said. “We let them know immediately ‘we can help you.’”
One of the ways students have received help is through a Sawnee EMC scholarship, which for the past three years has paid the entire fee for students who were unable to do so.
Glenn said 64 people have taken the GED through Sawnee’s help.
“That many people needed help from Sawnee EMC when it was $95, so we do expect to have much bigger problems when the price goes up over $200,” Glenn said.
“We want to encourage the community to think about donating to students to help them with the cost.”
Jeff Gill of the FCN regional staff contributed to this report.