This morning, Governor Terry Branstad signed into law House File 473, expanding pathways to achieve a high school equivalency diploma, a key legislative priority for United Way of Central Iowa and several state partners.

“This is an incredible opportunity for more central Iowans to achieve a high school equivalency diploma and be on a path to financial stability,” said Elisabeth Buck, Chief Community Impact Officer for United Way of Central Iowa. “The additional pathways recognize the diverse needs of our adult learners, while continuing to place high standards on achieving a degree. It also benefits employers who are seeking skilled workers.”

The law adopts the recommendation of the High School Equivalency Diploma Task Force to recognize Iowa community colleges’ adult diploma programs. These programs offer the ability to bundle prior high school coursework with secondary or postsecondary education courses.

40 percent of Iowans who have dropped out of high school are less than one course away from attaining their high school diploma. Currently, the only way to achieve a high school equivalency diploma is by taking HiSET classes and passing the HiSET assessments. 

By 2025, 68 percent of all jobs in Iowa will require some postsecondary training or education. Yet, more than 200,000 Iowans over age 18 currently do not have a high school diploma or equivalency.

“Those who have a high school diploma earn significantly more throughout their lifetime than those without it,” said Buck. “This law has been a key priority for United Way to support achieving our goal of increasing the percentage of central Iowans who are financially self-sufficient to 75 percent by 2020.”

Last year, United Way of Central Iowa launched Bridges to Success, an initiative to assist 10,000 adults in earning their high school equivalency diploma by 2020 through innovative solutions such as supportive coaching. 

About United Way
Since 1917, United Way of Central Iowa (UWCI) has brought together individuals, employers, and organizations from throughout central Iowa to create and implement initiatives focused on making lasting impact in the areas of education, income, and health. UWCI is a "Collective Impact" organization, bringing together nonprofits, businesses, government, and community leaders to collaborate and implement solutions to tackle our community's most critical issues. Learn more at

Media Contact:
Sarah Welch
515-246-6520 (o)
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About The Author: Sarah Welch

Sarah Welch is a communications contractor for the Thriving Workforce initiative and is the former Strategic Communications Officer at United Way of Central Iowa.