Prisoners May Soon be Eligible for Federal Student Aid

Federal and state prisoners may soon be eligible for federal student aid if efforts to restore Pell Grants are successful. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced a potential pilot program last Friday at Goucher College’s Prison Education Partnership at the Maryland Correctional Institution. As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

Reps. Donna Edwards, D-Md., and Danny Davis, D-Ill., introduced legislation in May that would reinstate Pell Grant eligibility for federal and state prisoners. At the time, Edwards said it would go a long way to helping curb the nation’s high incarceration rate through education.

Congress passed legislation in 1994 banning government student aid to prisoners in federal or state institutions. By setting up the proposed “experimental sites,” the administration would be seeking to get around the ban with a pilot program.

The experimental sites section of the Higher Education Act of 1965 gives federal officials flexibility to test the effectiveness of temporary changes to the way federal student aid is distributed. The tests could give the Education Department data to support possible revisions to laws or regulations.

Advocates for expanding federal student aid to prisoners point to societal benefits. A 2013 Rand study found that inmates who took part in education programs behind bars had 43 percent lower odds of returning to prison than inmates who had not. Supporters say the correctional education programs are cost-effective compared with the costs of re-incarceration.

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun.


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