High school diploma and black cap with tassle

Diploma or Certificate of Completion? What seniors should know

Nov. 20, 2020 – High School Diploma or Certificate of Completion (COC)?

As the Class of 2021 prepares for graduation, there’s some key information they need to know.

One is the difference between a high school diploma and Certificate of Completion. While the two may sound similar, they each lead to very different postsecondary paths.


For a high school diploma, students need to meet the following requirements:

  • Earn 24 credits (Standard Diploma option) or 18 credits (Accelerated Diploma option) View Florida Statute 1002.3105 for more info.
    • One course must be completed online
  • Pass the state math and reading assessments as mentioned in Florida Statute 1008.22 or receive concordant scores on the ACT and SAT.
    • Note – This assessment requirement was waived for the the class of 2020 due to COVID-19. However, this requirement has been reinstated for graduates of the 2020-2021 school year.
  • Achieve a GPA of a 2.0 or higher.

Seniors earning a Certificate of Completion have completed the required 18-24 credits but have not passed the required assessments or lack the required 2.0 GPA.


High school diploma recipients can apply to post secondary institutions, colleges and universities, apply for and receive financial aid, enlist in the U.S. armed forces, enter entry-level workforce positions requiring a high school diploma.

This is not the case for students who earn a Certificate of Completion. Students are limited in the post-secondary institutions where they can gain admittance. Additionally, they are ineligible to receive financial aid and can not enlist in the US Armed Forces. Recipients of a Certificate of Completion are also limited in entry level workforce requiring a high school diploma as a minimum job qualifier.


Remember, while the testing requirement for a high school diploma was waived for the Class of 2020 due to COVID-19, it is a requirement now.

Students will need to pass either the state reading and math assessment or receive concordant ACT or SAT scores.

Below are test prep resources.

Seniors and their families are encouraged to consult with a guidance counselor at their school to ensure they are on track for high school graduation.

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