Introduce a Bill to Restore Pell Grant Eligibility to Incarcerated Students
  • Petitioned Members of Congress

This petition was delivered to:

Members of Congress
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Senate

Introduce a Bill to Restore Pell Grant Eligibility to Incarcerated Students

    1. Petition by

      College and Community Fellowship


The Education from the Inside Out Coalition backs legislation to eliminate the 1994 ban on Pell Grant eligibility on incarcerated persons and re-establish the opportunity for otherwise eligible people in prison to obtain college aid through Pell Grants for postsecondary education programs. The proposal would not change current law that prohibits civilly-confined sex offenders from receiving any federal student aid.


Allowing access to education for the incarcerated will: 

Reduce Recidivism: Many people leave prison unskilled and undereducated, both factors that correlate powerfully to recidivism rates, leaving them unprepared for life on the outside, and a risk to public safety.

Strengthen Underserved Communities: With ever-increasing prison sentences and recidivism rates, incarcerated people are released without the essential tools necessary for reintegration to society.

Increase Employment: Higher education for incarcerated people is valuable in a society where post-secondary credentials are increasingly necessary to gain access to living wage jobs.

Reduce Poverty: When parents participate in postsecondary education the likelihood their children will go to college increases, creating more opportunities for multiple generations to climb out of poverty.

Save Taxpayers Dollars: Taxpayers contribute to the $55,000 that it cost to house a person in jail for a year. Upon their release, formerly incarcerated individuals would be further dependent on tax payer dollars without the advantage of higher education because they will have to depend on social services for survival.


Recent signatures


    1. Reached 1,500 signatures

      Education Inside and Out Coalition - Walter Fortson

      Panelist Walter Fortson briefly describes the importance of education in prison through his experiences in prison and in college.


      Education Inside and Out Coalition - Walter Fortson

      Panelist Walter Fortson briefly describes the importance of education in prison through his experiences in prison and in college.

    4. Outreach Efforts

      We are reaching out to college and universities nationwide, educating them about the campaign, and seeking to garner their support. Join us in our efforts.

    5. Reached 1,000 signatures

      We are returning from a small summer recess. The next EIO Meeting will take place on Thursday, August 30th.

    7. Planning Next Educational Session in New Jersey

      For those who were unable to join us in D.C. this is your chance to show your support for higher education. Stay tuned for further details!

    8. Reached 750 signatures
    9. Judson Shaver, President Marymount Manhattan College Supports the EIO

      President Shaver supports one of the largest in prison college programs in New York State called the College Bound Program, which runs out of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. He will be joining the EIO on May 31st to discuss why he is committed to the program, and the incarcerated students that depend upon it for successful re-entrance back into society.

    10. Reached 500 signatures

      We encourage our supporters to call in on our conference line and join us. Email Lettisha Boyd at for more information

    12. Our petition received 46 signatures this week.

      Thank you to everyone who signed on. Hope you find the updates interesting and our campaign necessary.

    13. The transformative power of higher education

      Incarcerated students at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility discussing how the opportunity to receive higher education in prison has effected them.

    14. The Saint Louis University Prison Program has entered a contest

      Help the program continue to thrive by voting for it in the Grow St. Louis Contest. Go to the Quick Search tab and type in Saint Louis University Prison Program. You will be asked to type in your email address, confirm email address and your vote will be cast. A simple way to help others in the spirit of the new year.

    15. Happy New Year to All!

      Let's continue to focus on helping those who cannot help themselves.

    16. EIO mentioned in newsarticle by Professor Baz Dreisinger

      EIO is recognized as one of the major leaders of higher education for all

    17. Reached 250 signatures
    18. Below is the link to the EIO campaign video

      The video will give supporters necessary background information on the history of Pell Grants and incarcerated students. It also sums up why access to Pell Grants makes sense on many levels from socioeconomic to moral.

    19. The EIO Coalition now has 133 Twitter followers! Keep them coming folks!

      Five people from Twitter signed on last week. Hope to get five more.

    20. Group photo after a successful Educational Session in D.C.

      EIO members pictured here with Dallas Pell, daughter of late Senator Claiborne Pell (Center Right).

    21. Panelists Agree Compelling Evidence Needed To Make Case for Incarcerated

      Diverse News in Higher Education reports Education From the Inside Out's first Education Session in Washington D.C.

    22. Amy Solomon, Brenda Dann-Meisser, Pat Nolan, Jody Lewen & Nicole Sullivan

      Those were the informative and motivating panelists who presented at the Open Society Foundations, about the positive impact of education on incarcerated students.

    23. Students, government officials, media & prison educators were in attendance

      The packed room, dialogue & questions asked during the session was proof that education in prison is a topic that needs more attention, that people think make sense and is a progressive and cost effective way to meet the needs of the offender and society as a whole.

    24. An educational session was held on October 3 at the Open Society Foundation

      The Assistant Secretary for Adult/Vocational Education for the U.S. Department of Education Dr. Brenda Dann Meisser gave the opening address.

    25. A prison educator from Arkansas just joined the EIO coalition!

      People nationwide agree that education on the inside is important.


    Reasons for signing

    • Anthony Kunkle CALDWELL, ID
      • 9 months ago

      I have seen the outcome of frustration in incarcerated men who lose hope because they are simply not allowed to improve themselves academically. Policies which restrict eligibility for programs such as this encourage a "why bother" attitude and increase the likelihood that individuals will return to their existing skill sets (crime) upon release.

    • Donna Dayka MERRITT ISLAND, FL
      • 9 months ago

      If we don't education those behind bars to make an honest living when they come out, they will only become repeat offenders. We must educate them while they are a captive audience thirsty for learning.

      • 9 months ago

      All States should Provide an Education for their Inmates! To Help with their Future to make Good Decisions and Better Their Lives.. EMPOWERMENT!! EDUCATION!!! STOP THE REVOLVING DOOR!

    • ramona porter NEW CANEY, TX
      • 9 months ago

      Education is the key to everything. My son is fortunate enough to be taking college classes while incarcerated at TDCJ.I wish this was available to all those who need it. We pay for his classes but if a pell grant was available more could benefit from this.

    • Kristina Franz LAWTON, OK
      • 9 months ago

      For the sake of the country, for a judicial system that is broken - let's help those who have made a mistake correct their courses and re-enter society after they have paid their dues. Restoring the Pell Grant to the incarcerated will help them to enter a job market they can compete in, thrive in and turn their life around with. Do the right thing. Everyone deserves a chance to thrive in life. By doing this, you've ensured millions of the incarcerated will not re-offend because they have a career to look upon - give them a fighting chance- don't set them up for failure. Set them up for success!


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