Taxpayers Opposed To New Government Funding For Incarcerated People To Receive A Free College Degree

Taxpayers Opposed To New Government Funding For Incarcerated People To Receive A Free College Degree

A government program that typically helps people who need financial assistance to attend college now assists prisoners in obtaining their college degrees while incarcerated.

According to The Associated Press, thousands of imprisoned people have gotten their degrees while behind bars due to the federal government’s Pell Grant program. The Pell Grant program is not a loan and does not have to be paid back by the people who enroll and are provided funds based on their inability to pay for college tuition.

Future recipients will be able to benefit from the government program after a 1994 ban on Pell Grants for prisoners was lifted, allowing incarcerated individuals to obtain a college degree on the government’s dime. 

Now, the program is expected to help out many more prisoners. The Pell Grant program will expand in August 2023, giving approximately 30,000 more prisoners roughly $130 million in financial aid annually.

Of course, granting prisoners the chance to gain a college degree comes with controversy. Many people want to avoid seeing taxpayer money given to incarcerated individuals. Republicans opposed the program being used by prisoners when the Obama administration, through executive action, offered a limited number of Pell Grants to prisoners. Republicans believed the funds could be used to improve federal job training and re-entry programs instead.

After Congress voted to lift the ban in 2020, about 200 Pell-eligible college programs in 48 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico have taken advantage of it. With the recent expansion slated to take place, any college that wants to take advantage of the Pell Grant funding will be able to allow prisoners to apply.

The ones who want full rehabilitation while serving time can now come out with a better chance of avoiding recidivism through the Pell Grant program.

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