President Obama Promises To Give 12,000 Prison Inmates Pell Grants For College Study
As many as 12,000 prison inmates will be able to use federal Pell grants to finance college classes next month, despite a 22-year congressional ban on providing financial aid to prisoners.
The Obama administration selected 67 colleges and universities Thursday for the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, an experiment to help prisoners earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree while incarcerated. The schools will work with more than 100 federal and state penitentiaries to enroll inmates who qualify for Pell, a form of federal aid that covers tuition, books and fees for college students with financial need. Prisoners must be eligible for release within five years of enrolling in coursework.
Although the ban remains firmly in place, the Obama administration is using its authority to create limited experiments in the deployment of federal student aid. Other recent experiments include extending Pell grants to high school students enrolled in college course and people participating in computer coding bootcamps.
“We all agree that crime must have consequences, but the men and women who have done their time and paid their debt deserve the opportunity to break with the past and forge new lives in their homes, workplaces ad communities,” Education Secretary John B. King Jr. said on a call with reporters Thursday. “This belief in second chances is fundamental to who we are as Americans.”
King said the administration will provide approximately $30 million in Pell grants to inmates in 27 states. He said the funding is less than 0.1 percent of the overall $30 billion Pell program, and the pilot won’t affect funding to eligible Pell recipients who are not incarcerated.
Photo by Sarah Thompson
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