New Efforts to Increase Access to Pell Grants for Incarcerated Students

By: Amy Loyd, Performing Assistant Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Strategic Efforts, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

Thats why today, the Education Department is announcing that it will even more expand access to greater education in jail for justice-involved people. We will welcome new academic organizations to take part in the Second Chance Pell experiment, which invests in students who are put behind bars by permitting authorized universities and colleges to support those trainees through Pell Grant funds. The Second Chance Pell experiment started in 2015, and it has actually provided chances for countless trainees at more than 130 institutions of greater education. Through Second Chance Pell, over 22,000 students have actually earned over 7,000 postsecondary credentials, developing new abilities and enhancing their chances of success.

Both the expansion of Second Chance Pell and the new guidelines governing jail education programs will extend federal financial aid to more students who are put behind bars, and to more postsecondary education programs. By one price quote, 300 college programs presently run in prisons, registering more than 25,000 trainees across the nation; through these changes, much more might participate in the future. Secretary Cardona and the rest of the Biden Administration hope to reach as a lot of those students as possible.

We understand that these efforts cant stop with eligibility for Pell Grants. We also require to ensure the federal monetary help program is truly available to trainees in jail. Currently, we have actually taken steps to carry out modifications to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that institutions and trainees alike have actually reported as significant stumbling blocks: removing the repercussions of questions about Selective Service registration and requirements around drug convictions. Federal aid candidates who are incarcerated are more most likely than others to have loans in default, that makes them disqualified for Pell Grants. We are actively checking out methods to assist these trainees reestablish eligibility for federal student help. We will continue to check out extra changes that will make it simpler for incarcerated trainees to gain access to Pell Grants for qualifying programs, and to listen to the voices and experiences of the students as we move forward.

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona recently invited trainees who had gone to college-in-prison programs to share their experiences. Their stories were moving; all of the students who participated in the virtual roundtable informed the Secretary that they genuinely understood their capacity while taking part in education while in jail, thanks in big part to the efforts of educational organizations that used them a second chance. Today, those students have fulfilling careers and full lives. Many are also actively engaged, in one method or another, in ensuring that individuals who are presently jailed got a second chance just like they did. Postsecondary educational programs provided in prisons provide trainees who are incarcerated new chances to enhance their education, get work, reconnect with family, and re-engage with their neighborhoods.

Those lessons discovered restoring Pell Grant gain access to for incarcerated trainees will be especially helpful over the coming months and years, thanks to a modification Congress recently made to the Higher Education Act. In December 2020, lawmakers broadened access to Pell Grants to include students who are jailed once again for those registered in prison education programs that are authorized by their state corrections departments or the federal Bureau of Prisons and that satisfy other requirements. The Department plans to carry out those arrangements starting on July 1, 2023. In the meantime, the Department has actually revealed plans to publish regulations that will make sure prison education programs are developed to advance fair outcomes for all trainees.

By inviting more organizations to participate, the Department will permit as much as 200 two- and four-year institution of higher learnings to use their prison-education programs through the Second Chance Pell experiment. Interested institutions will use to the Department, and we will choose institutions to join the experiment that will increase diversity for the experiment, particularly geographic variety. By expanding the experiment and widening its coverage to more of the country, the Department will gain important insights about how to reinstate Pell Grant eligibility within correctional facilities, and how postsecondary institutions can best serve trainees who are incarcerated.

We will invite brand-new educational institutions to get involved in the Second Chance Pell experiment, which invests in students who are incarcerated by enabling authorized universities and colleges to support those students through Pell Grant funds. Already, we have actually taken actions to implement modifications to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that trainees and institutions alike have reported as major stumbling blocks: eliminating the consequences of questions about Selective Service registration and requirements around drug convictions. We are actively checking out ways to help these students restore eligibility for federal trainee aid. We will continue to explore extra changes that will make it much easier for incarcerated students to access Pell Grants for qualifying programs, and to listen to the voices and experiences of the students as we move forward.

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