Colleges Embrace Pell Grant Expansion for Prisoners

October 20, 2015

More than 200 colleges and universities have said they’re interested in joining the Obama administration’s pilot program that will provide Pell Grants to incarcerated students, an official said Monday.

Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell told reporters that the Education Department had received “over 200” letters of interest from colleges and universities that want to participate in the program, which the administration has dubbed Second Chance Pell.

The deadline for colleges to respond was Oct. 2.

The Obama administration formally announced earlier this year that it would use its executive power to make Pell Grants available to some students in state and federal prisons on a limited basis. The Education Department plans to use its “experimental sites” authority to waive the federal prohibition on student aid for prisoners that Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed in the mid-1990s.

Republicans in Congress have criticized the administration’s efforts.

But John King, who will take the reins of the Department of Education when Duncan leaves later this year, told reporters on Monday that he would like to see Congress go further than the department’s pilot program and completely overturn the ban on Pell Grants for prisoners.

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