ED Announces Expansion and Updates to Second Chance Pell Program

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Senior Staff Reporter

The Department of Education (ED) unveiled updates to its Second Chance Pell Experiment by opening up a third round of the program to make a total of 200 institutions of higher education eligible to participate.

According to the announcement, ED has invited an additional 73 institutions of higher education to participate in this third iteration of the program, which follows the department’s recent outreach to schools.

Any institution wishing to participate in the Prison Education Program needs to meet an extensive list of requirements. Proprietary schools, regardless of their ability to meet the requirements, are prohibited from participating.

As a part of this announcement, ED also highlighted that it would be making administrative changes to ensure incarcerated individuals are eligible for the “fresh start” initiative unveiled as a part of the administration’s continuation of the federal student loan payment pause. The “fresh start” policy, once unveiled, will seek to eliminate "the impact of delinquency and default and allowing [borrowers] to reenter repayment in good standing."

According to ED, incarcerated individuals have faced significant barriers to entering the Second Chance Pell Experiment because they were twice as likely as the broader population to have defaulted loans.

ED will also allow incarcerated individuals to consolidate their loans as a way of assisting them in exiting default.

“Access to high-quality postsecondary education is essential to incarcerated individuals, but for far too long, people in prison were left out,” said Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.  “The expansion of Second Chance Pell and these new pathways out of default are critical steps for incarcerated individuals to be able to access educational opportunities that will provide second chances to build a future.” 

A full list of institutions that are now eligible to participate in this latest round of the Second Chance Pell Experiment was also made available.


Publication Date: 4/27/2022

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