Beshear Kentucky GED

Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman speak with the media as Gov. Andy Beshear listens during a press conference at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. To assist Kentuckians seeking to earn their GED's, Beshear announced that the state has allowed $600,000 to cover testing fees. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — With the help of $600,000 in state funding, the number of Kentucky residents signed up to earn their GED certification spiked 81% since January, eliminating one of the most common barriers people in the state face, according to a news release.

With more than 335,000 people in the state without a high school diploma, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman announced at the start of the year the $120 GED test fee would be waived for Kentucky citizens.

Aside from the rise in sign-ups, there was also a 38% increase in the number of people who actually earned their GED, according to Kentucky Skills U, an agency within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet that allotted the state funds.

Coleman said it is the state’s job to make sure its residents have access to a quality education and to remove obstacles that prevent them from reaching their full potential.

“As a teacher, I am not surprised that Kentuckians are eager to better themselves and their families through education, but this response has been even better than we imagined,” Coleman said in the release. “The investment that our state is making in Kentuckians will pay dividends far into the future of these individuals, their families and communities and ultimately our state.”

Between January and March, an average of 1,230 Kentucky residents are in the process of attaining their GED each month, compared to 678 in the same period in 2019.

“I think a lot of the time there is privilege given to those who go through life in a straight line. Life for me hasn’t been a straight anything. My life has had twists and turns that haven’t always been in my control,” Amber Wilder, a Louisville resident studying for the GED test, said in the release. “The Education and Workforce Development Cabinet making the GED test free says to me that it’s OK to stumble on your journey to success. I feel supported in that journey.”

Residents in all 120 counties have access to cost-free adult education for those seeking to move onto higher education or further their careers through Kentucky Skills U.

More information can be found at kyskillsu.gov.