The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

September 15, 2013

CDSA to help local residents with their GED

ENID, Okla. — On average, there is a big difference in income between people who graduated from high school and those who didn’t.

According to the 2010 Census, 26.5 percent of adults 18-24 in Garfield County do not have a high school diploma. For adults age 25, 14.9 percent do not have a high school diploma.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2012, the weekly median earning nationally is $471 for a person who does not have a high school diploma. People who possess a high school diploma make about $181 a week more — or about $9,000 a year more, based on national statistics. There is a 4 percent difference in the employment rate between those who have a high school diploma and those who do not.

Now, Tracy Polson, of Community Development Support Association, is offering financial aid for Enid residents who did not graduate high school and who want to take the GED test. Polson, program coordinator for CDSA, works mostly with Youth Build, but said this is a side project.

“We applied to United Way for a Venture Grant and got $3,500 to pay for financial assistance to adults who drop out of school and need a high school diploma,” Polson said.

In 2014, GED testing will change. Computer literacy skills will be required, and higher reading, math, science and writing skills also will be required.

“The GED is a reflection of hard work. It’s not a loser degree. Not everyone who graduated high school could pass it. The new test will be very challenging to people with low skills, if they can’t connect to basic education to improve their training,” Polson said.

CDSA’s program will help people who may have passed some, but not all, of the GED with financial assistance to finish. Many people do not have the finances to continue the test, Polson said.

“We learned through involvement with Youth Build, lots of adults would like to complete their education, and sometimes, the only difference is the cost of the test,” she said.

CDSA also partnered with the Goodwill Job Center and the Enid Workforce Center and will provide information about employment opportunities. If adults obtain a high school diploma, through passing the GED test, they will know where to go to get higher-paying jobs, Polson said. They plan to expand the program into other communities.

To apply for financial assistance to take the GED test, people should apply at CDSA, located in The Non-Profit Center downtown. Polson said the application is one page long, but applicants will need to show proof of identification, such as a driver’s license, and proof of income.

“They need to show they are who they say they are and will need a photo ID to take the test,” she said.

Some type of income qualifying factor also must be provided, showing they are below 80 percent of the area median income level. That level is based on family size.

“They must show proof of that and an ID and we’ll write a voucher and send it to Carver where they can take the test,” she said.

They are asking participants to report back to them with how successful they are on the test. If they do not finish, Polson said they can finance a retest.

“We can impact many, many people in the community,” she said.

Polson said the most common reason she has heard about why someone drops out of school is because they fall behind in their work. When they reach the 10th grade, they are older than the other students and cannot attend public school after age 20.

“They think there is no way they can do it, and give up. Some problems are behavioral, and absenteeism. There are so many support systems, but people don’t feel connected to them,” she said. “Sometimes, there are family issues, the family is transient, but the primary reason with a lot of younger people is they are 20 years old with ninth-grade credits and have exhausted their high school eligibility.”

Carver Education Center is the only place in Enid where people can receive training to take the GED test and increase their basic skills, as well, she said.

CDSA’s goal is to have 100 tests done before the end of the year. Polson called it an economic development issue that will benefit Enid.

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