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Ready for Pell

Learn about what we’re doing to support postsecondary education in prison programs ahead of the full restoration of Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated learners, coming in the 2023-24 academic year.

Helping postsecondary institutions prepare to access Pell Grant funds for incarcerated learners

Since 1994, people who are incarcerated have been prohibited from receiving Pell Grants, resulting in a decrease in postsecondary education in prison programs. With the full restoration of Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated learners slated for the 2023-24 academic year, many questions remain. Are program providers ready? Have they adapted their financial aid practices in ways that empower incarcerated learners? Are they ready to maximize this new funding toward the goal of increased student success by getting the most out of statewide coordination efforts and/or campus-based student success initiatives? Have they identified the metrics they’ll need to track student success over time?

Ascendium’s Ready for Pell initiative anticipates these questions and aims to support and strengthen postsecondary education in prison programs in preparation for this moment. The two-year initiative will help both administrators and financial aid staff enhance program quality and ensure eligible students are able to access and maximize the use of Pell funds as they pursue postsecondary education in prison and beyond. 

In November 2021, our intermediary grant partner Jobs for the Future (JFF) announced a request for proposals inviting colleges and postsecondary systems to apply for grants of up to $125,000 as part of this initiative. From those proposals, two state systems and 19 colleges in 15 states were chosen as grant recipients. In addition to funding, these participants will receive technical assistance to strengthen postsecondary education in prison programs and build capacity to maximize the full reinstatement of Pell Grants for eligible students.

Grant Partners

Congratulations to the state systems and colleges that have been selected to receive support through this initiative. Read JFF’s announcement to learn how these partners currently serve incarcerated learners and how they intend to use the Ready for Pell resources to strengthen their offerings.