Friday, July 31, 2015

Pell Grants for Prisoners? A Limited Program Sparks Hope for Broader Change

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 30th, 2015


The Obama administration is poised to announce on Friday that it will offer Pell Grants to some prisoners, the first adult inmates to be eligible for the grants since Congress barred prisoners from receiving them more than 20 years ago.
The scope of the offer will be very limited: Only a small, as-yet-unspecified number of inmates will be able to participate. They’ll do so through a pilot program that creates an "experimental site" — a lab, of sorts, that allows the Education Department to study the plan’s effectiveness without approval from Congress. The law blocking prisoners from receiving Pell money will remain on the books.
Still, for advocates and colleges working to bring higher education to prisoners, the announcement is significant. The past two decades have been a trying time for supporters of prison education programs. In 1995, shortly after Congress barred state and federal inmates from receiving Pell Grants, 350 prisons nationwide offered degree-granting programs. Most of those programs ended when colleges backed out.


The Obama administration is poised to announce on Friday that it will offer Pell Grants to some prisoners, the first adult inmates to be eligible for the grants since Congress barred prisoners from receiving them more than 20 years ago.
The scope of the offer will be very limited: Only a small, as-yet-unspecified number of inmates will be able to participate. They’ll do so through a pilot program that creates an "experimental site" — a lab, of sorts, that allows the Education Department to study the plan’s effectiveness without approval from Congress. The law blocking prisoners from receiving Pell money will remain on the books.
Still, for advocates and colleges working to bring higher education to prisoners, the announcement is significant. The past two decades have been a trying time for supporters of prison education programs. In 1995, shortly after Congress barred state and federal inmates from receiving Pell Grants, 350 prisons nationwide offered degree-granting programs. Most of those programs ended when colleges backed out.
- See more at: http://chronicle.com/article/Pell-Grants-for-Prisoners-A/232063/#sthash.KJvBAPrd.dpuf

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