Published: Oct 11, 2010 4:27 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 11, 2010 1:27 PM EDT

MIAMI (AP) - Florida prison inmates are close to setting a record for the number of high school equivalency certificates earned in a year.

The Department of Corrections says more than 2,500 prisoners have received their GED certificates so far this year, compared to 1,313 just four years ago. Last year, 2,603 inmates got their GED.

This happened even though the prison department's education budget has been almost cut in half during the last eight years.

To supplement the reduced teaching staff, prisons are now using inmates to teach other inmates.

To teach, the inmates need a GED or higher, pass an assessment test and take a six-week course.

Prison officials say released inmates who have their GED are 8 percent less likely to return to prison.