U.S. Department of Education expands Pell grant access for incarcerated individuals


By Lisa Chasanov, Summer Editor

The United States Department of Education announced the launch of a new program wherein institutions of higher education can offer programs for incarcerated individuals.

The program, which will be launched on Saturday, will allow incarcerated individuals enrolled in approved prison education programs, or PEPs, to apply for federal Pell grants. The department will begin to accept applications on July 3 and will approve them on a rolling basis, the statement said.

This program comes following the Second Chance Pell Experiment, a limited program that granted 40,000 Pell grants to incarcerated students through the 2021-22 award year. According to the statement, the department estimates that up to 760,000 individuals could become eligible for this new process.

“I call on colleges and postsecondary programs across our country to meet this moment and step up to serve people who’ve been impacted by the criminal justice system, who for the first time in three decades will be eligible for Pell Grants to help pay for education,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

“Prison education programs reduce recidivism rates and create meaningful opportunities for redemption and rehabilitation that improve lives, strengthen communities, and reflect America’s ideal as a nation of second chances and limitless possibilities,” Cardona said.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

According to the statement, eligible institutions — public and private non-profit colleges and universities — must adhere to the standards for implementing effective PEPs established by the department of education starting July 1 in order to be eligible to provide these services.

Nearly 200 postsecondary institutions currently participate in the Second Chance Pell Experiment, the statement said. 

The department approved more than 160 of those institutions to transition into the new program earlier this month, according to the statement. This step will allow institutions to continue to serve their students who are confined or incarcerated after July 1, 2023.

“This historic moment marks the start of a nationwide effort that could help over 760,000 individuals who are currently incarcerated pursue degrees, credentials, and skills that set them up for success and lead to brighter futures,” Cardona said.

[email protected]