Second Chance Pell Pilot Program:
As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to create a fairer, more effective criminal justice system, reduce recidivism, and combat the impact of mass incarceration on communities, the Department of Education today announced the Second Chance Pell Pilot program to test new models to allow incarcerated Americans to receive Pell Grants and pursue the postsecondary education with the goal of helping them get jobs, support their families, and turn their lives around.
Through this pilot program, incarcerated individuals who otherwise meet Title IV eligibility requirements and are eligible for release, particularly within the next five years, could access Pell Grants to pursue postsecondary education and training. The goal is to increase access to high-quality educational opportunities and help these individuals successfully transition out of prison and back into the classroom or the workforce. Incarcerated students who receive Pell Grants through this pilot will be subject to cost of attendance restrictions, so Pell Grants can only be used to pay for tuition, fees, books and supplies required by an individual’s education program.
Title IV Eligibility:
Basic eligibility requirements for federal student aid include citizenship requirements and requirements relating to the student’s ability to benefit from a postsecondary education. The student must:
● Be a U.S. Citizen, permanent resident or eligible non-citizen
● Have a valid Social Security number (SSN), except for students from the Freely Associated States (e.g., Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau).
● Have a high school diploma, the recognized equivalent of a high school diploma (including a General Educational Development (GED) certificate), or have completed a high school curriculum in a home school setting that satisfies the state’s requirements for home schooling. (Students who first enrolled in an accredited college or university before July 1, 2012, may qualify by satisfying alternate criteria, such as passing an approved ability-to-benefit (ATB) test or completing six credit hours or equivalent course work toward a degree or certificate.)
● Be enrolled, or accepted for enrollment, as a regular student at an accepted college or institution (both educational and vocational schools included).
*Maximum of $5,775.00 to be granted to each student.*
Prison Education Foundation:
The Prison Education Foundation’s mission is to transform the lives of incarcerated men and women by encouraging educational achievement and providing post-secondary educational opportunities.
The Prison Education Foundation’s purpose is to provide incarcerated men and women with the opportunity to earn a collegiate education from a fully accredited institution of higher learning.
You must have a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate,
You must be a U.S. citizen,
You must be within seven (7) years of your scheduled release date,
You must have no serious disciplinary incidents within the past 12 months, and
You must be accepted into an Associate or Baccalaureate degree program with a
regionally accredited college or university approved by the Prison Education Foundation.
You may contact Prison Education Foundation by mail at 2661 Commons Blvd., Beavercreek, Ohio 45431. Or, you may telephone us at (877) 361-1725.
Educational Pell Grants for Felons:
Pell Grants are open to almost all felons and are only available for educational purposes. They are available to be used at an approved and credentialed college or trade school. For the 2017-18 year, the maximum Pell Grant awarded was $5,920. You may or may not get the full amount. Pell Grant amounts are awarded solely based on income and length of time you will be attending school.
● Unfortunately, drug related felonies will bar you from receiving a Pell Grant. However, this can be overcome if you have completed an approved drug rehabilitation program or passed two random drug tests.
● You cannot be incarcerated in a state or federal prison or jail during the time the you would use a Pell Grant. However, you may apply will incarceration to receive your grant upon release.
● Sexual offenses may limit your eligibility to receive a Pell Grant.
More information about felony restrictions can be found here: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/eligibility/criminal-convictions#drug-convictions
In order to determine your eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant, you must first complete and submit your FAFSA application. It is free and can be done here (https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa or https://fafsa.ed.gov/ ). FAFSA must be completed every year in order to remain eligible. To be eligible to receive federal student aid, you must meet the following requirements:
● Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
● Have a valid Social Security Number (unless you’re from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau)
● Comply with Selective Service registration, if required
● Have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) Certificate or pass an approved ability-to-benefit (ATB) test
● Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program at a school that participates in the federal student aid programs
● You must not owe a refund on a federal grant or be in default on a federal student loan
● You must have financial need (except for unsubsidized Stafford Loans)
● You must not have certain drug convictions. See here (https://careerwise.minnstate.edu/iseek/static/FAFSA%20Drug%20Conviction%20Worksheet.pdf) on how to answer drug related questions on the FAFSA.
Additionally, you can search for federal grants here: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/home.html
For more information about federal student aid, visit the Department of Education’s website here:
Scholarships for felons:
Scholarships, like grants, do not need to be paid back. The main difference between the two is where the money comes from. Scholarships are often provided by organizations and schools.
There are many private scholarships available that are open to people with felony backgrounds. Here are some that you can apply to:
Benjamin and Patricia Allen Scholarship
This scholarship is a $1,000 award offered to students who are the first of their family to attend a university. Donors include several businesspersons who often look for students seeking a business-related degree.
Jeremy Gordon’s Commitment to Change College Scholarship
The Law Office of Jeremy Gordon offers this scholarship four times a year with the goal of helping people with prior conditions continue down a better path. Even people still serving a sentence may apply and use the benefits in prison as long as they are working towards a degree. This scholarship is geared towards those attending Adams State University.
Charles Colson Scholarship
Wheaton College in Illinois is an educational institute that relies heavily on a Christian mission. As such, many of its programs and scholarship opportunities are rooted in rewarding those who walk closely with God. One of these financial programs is provided to those who have a past that may have involved a judicial conviction of a crime. Known as the Charles W. Colson Scholarship, this one of the scholarships for felons was developed in the late eighties as part of the Wheaton College prison ministry efforts and named for one of its pioneers: Charles Colson. The scholarship offers those with a criminal past financial credits to attend the university in either an undergraduate or graduate level. Those that wish to apply may also be in the prison ministries program as well.