This web center was created to keep both financial aid community and prison education program administrators updated on tools, training, and news related to the implementation of financial aid in carceral settings. Check back often as this page will be updated regularly.
Do you have a question that you don't see an answer to? Or do you feel like you need some general guidance about financial aid for students who are incarcerated? Please send an email to [email protected] to get customized support.
In 1994, as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act legislation, access to federal financial aid was removed from people who were incarcerated. In 2015, the Department of Education announced the Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative, in which selected schools were permitted to administer Pell Grants to this student population. Data and experiences were collected during the course of the experiment, and in December 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 was signed into law. The Act included a removal of the restriction preventing people who are incarcerated from participating in federal financial aid. Other than a continued prohibition on receiving loans, other financial aid including Pell Grants are permitted as of July 1, 2023, but only if the program is accepted as a formal Prison Education Program (PEP). The PEP application, which is submitted by institutions of higher education (IHEs) via the E-App, must be accompanied by active supportive documentation from both the correctional agency responsible for the students as well as the IHE's accreditor. There are a variety of detailed data and oversight requirements, and proprietary for-profit IHEs cannot host PEPs.
Institutions are required to adhere to additional regulations and to implement specialized processes in order to serve the population of incarcerated students. This web center provides information about PEPs, their administration, and resources available to support PEP programs.
The NASFAA AskRegs questions that address Prison Education Programs are now publicly available. If you don't see an article about a topic you are interested in understanding, please send an email with the question to [email protected].
These documents are designed directly for use by students who are incarcerated.
This work is generously funded by a grant from Ascendium Education Group.