Second State Seeks to Lift Tuition Assistance Ban on Incarcerated Students

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Managing Editor

New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday announced that her administration would seek to restore Tuition Assistance Program funding to incarcerated New Yorkers, lifting a 30-year eligibility ban. The move would make New York just the second state to repeal a state-wide ban along with New Jersey.

According to a recent analysis from The Education Commission of the States as of 2020 there were "19 of the 52 U.S. states and jurisdictions place no restrictions on eligibility for system-impacted students in either of their two largest financial aid grant programs."

“We know that incarcerated people who participate in correctional education programs are far less likely to reoffend and 13 times more likely to obtain employment after returning home,” Hochul said during her state of the state address. “So today I'm announcing a new ‘Jails-to-Jobs,’ initiative, so incarcerated people will have the support they need to find employment during re-entry.”

In addition to these state-based changes, the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act included a provision that restored federal financial aid eligibility for incarcerated individuals and established participation requirements for prison education programs.

Prior to the measure’s enactment, incarcerated students were prohibited from accessing Pell Grants under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

For more coverage of Pell Grant eligibility for prison education programs, follow NASFAA’s coverage of the most recent negotiated rulemaking session on affordability and student loans, which reached consensus on the issue.


Publication Date: 1/6/2022

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