Obama Admin Announces Plan To Give Prisoners Pell Grants

The Obama administration has unveiled a tentative program that looks to give prisoners the right to receive Pell Grants for the first time in over 20 years.

The program, dubbed the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, is scheduled to begin by fall 2016, and will allow a limited number of prisoners to enroll in a select set of associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs. How many prisoners will participate, what degrees they will be able to seek, and even how much the program will cost are all uncertain at this point.

But the program is already arousing anger in Congress. Pell Grants for federal and state prisoners were banned in 1994 as part of an anti-crime bill, and Obama’s new program is a clear effort to at least partially circumvent this ban. (RELATED: Dems Seek Pell Grants For Prisoners)

The administration argues it is allowed to launch this program because of a federal law that allows the Department of Education to undertake limited experiments in how it delivers student aid. Officially, the Second Chance program will observe whether prisoners receiving Pell Grants have lower recidivism rates and greater success in getting jobs after leaving prison.

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