FORT JACKSON — The Army is ending a program that helped nearly 3,000 high school dropouts earn high school equivalency certificates and become soldiers.

The GED pilot program known as the Army’s prep school started at Fort Jackson, S.C., in summer 2008, when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan left the service scrambling to find soldiers.

But since then, with the economy in a downward spiral and jobs hard to come by, more people with diplomas have been enlisting.

In 2008, 82.8 percent of people enlisting for active duty were high school graduates, and that number jumped to 94.6 percent in 2009.

Recruits who were in the program’s last class and have been in basic training for about five weeks say they’re grateful they squeaked through.