Richard Hahn, Senior Fellow at the Niskanen Center, wrote this piece for The Hill on February 27, 2022. It discusses why eligibility rules will keep Pell grants out of reach for many incarcerated individuals. Read the full article here.
Pell Grants, the federal government’s main subsidy to post-secondary students with financial need, once paid for tens of thousands of incarcerated individuals to take classes. They were crucial to lowering one of the many barriers to higher education that prisoners face. Now, after nearly three decades of baseless exclusion, prisoners are once again eligible for these grants. Still, most applicants will face hopelessly strict eligibility rules that keep college out of reach.
Pell grants to prisoners never exceeded 0.5 percent of total program outlays. Still, they were often under fire during the “tough” response to crime in the 1980s. Research has long associated education with reduced offending, but Congress has been ambivalent.
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