On June 28, 2012, the Department of Defense implemented new guidelines for how all branches of the military must treat homeschool students who wish to enlist in the army, navy, air force, or marines. In accord with section 532 of the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, ONE set of criteria is used by the Armed Forces to determine whether an individual is a graduate of homeschooling.

According to a memo issued by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense in June 2012:

“The following criteria will be used to determine whether a credential represents a bona fide homeschool diploma for the purposes of military enlistment:

First, the applicant must follow state guidelines. In a state requiring that parents notify the state or school district, we must have verification of that notification.

Second, the curriculum must involve parental instruction and closely parallel the traditional high school curriculum, which in turn necessitates review of transcripts to ensure that courses are comparable and the education program is not inappropriately accelerated.

Third, the applicant must have been in the home school for the final 9 months (academic year) to eliminate those who drop out of tradition school during their senior year and then assert a claim they were home schooled.”

Tier Classification System

Since it costs money to recruit, enlist, and train young man and women to serve in the military, the Department of Defense has studied which recruits fulfill their enlistment obligation and which ones don’t make it past basic training. The DoD has found that performance on the AFQT is the best predictor for who will succeed in the military.

Once the recruiting office verifies an enlistee as a homeschool graduate, the individual is eligible to enlist as a Tier 1 recruit as long as they score 50 or higher on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). Homeschool graduates who score lower than 50 will be enlisted at Tier 2.

Prior to this policy change, homeschool enlistees were automatically classified as Tier 2, denying them certain priority placements and enlistment bonuses. As of June 2012, homeschool graduates, as well as public school graduates, can only be denied a Tier 1 classification IF they score below a 50 on the AFQT.

Preparing to Enlist in the Military

While this change creates a more equitable enlistment policy, homeschoolers should continue to be aware of the need to accurately document their high school years. When enlisting, young men and women will be required to submit a homeschool transcript. The transcript will need to show that the student completed courses similar to what’s expected in a “traditional high school”.

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Last modified on April 15, 2020