The Institute for Higher Education Policy, along with a group of 37 research, advocacy and justice organizations and professionals, is pushing for changes in higher education policy that would improve educational opportunities for incarcerated individuals and those with drug convictions.
In a letter last month, the group urged U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and policymakers to reinstate Federal Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated students. The letter also asked to eliminate Question 23 on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which asks if the applicant has had a drug conviction.
The letter cited a 2013 study from the RAND Corporation that found when incarcerated students participate in education programs, repeat offense rates drop by 43 percent, meaning dollars invested in prison education can lead to saving four or five times as much in re-imprisonment costs.
“We recognize the U.S. Department of Education’s important role in affirming and uplifting national educational priorities,” the letter said. “We hope we can count on your continued advocacy for these often-marginalized students who are simply seeking to reach their full potential.”
Over 1,000 FAFSA applicants were deemed fully ineligible because of drug-related convictions or failure to answer Question 23 during the 2016-17 student aid cycle, Inside Higher Ed found.