Accessing Pell Grants for College Programs in Correctional Settings A Summary of the Regulations and Requirements

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In 2020, Congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act that, among other things, reinstated access to Pell Grants for people in prison to pay for their college education. Now, for the first time since the 1990s, incarcerated people who are enrolled in an eligible prison education program (PEP) will be able to access federal financial assistance through the Pell Grant program.

On October 28, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education published final regulations that provide a framework for how to implement Pell reinstatement and ensure high-quality postsecondary education in correctional facilities. The regulations will take effect on July 1, 2023. This fact sheet highlights the main points of the Department of Education’s regulations and presents a simplified version of the processes they describe.

Key Takeaway

The Department of Education’s provisions outline the steps that postsecondary institutions must follow to create PEPs that are eligible for Pell Grant funds. In addition, the regulations require robust data collection and reporting to support the Department of Education in its assessment of program outcomes.