Will Obama end ban on prisoners receiving Pell Grants?
President Obama continues to forge ahead with education initiatives that are sure to get people talking. As reported by the Washington Post, the Obama Administration will try to end a 22-year ban on prisoners ability to attain Pell Grants for college. I can already hear the arguments that “deserving” citizens should receive this money – not those society has deemed unfit for outside life. That’s just the reason these inmates need the Pell Grant chance, though.
During a visit to the Maryland Correctional Facility in Jessup, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Loretta Lynch talked about the need to provide education opportunities for inmates as a way to reduce the recidivism rate.
“In their visit to Jessup, Duncan and Lynch announced that some inmates of state and federal prisons will be eligible soon for federal Pell grants through an experiment called the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program. The experiment, to be launched by fall 2016, would provide an exception to a ban enacted in 1994 that made prisoners ineligible for Pell grants,” the Post reports.
While the ban has to be lifted by Congress, the President has the ability to experiment by offering Pell Grants to a limited number of prisoners who are within five years of release.
The president is likely to receive push-back from Congressional Republicans when he decides to work around the ban, but allowing prisoners access to higher education prior to the end of their sentences would eventually save the federal government millions of dollars. It would mean better lives for these former prisoners too, making it an all-around good initiative.