Inmates, Parolees can take Advantage of Pilot Program

TULSA, Okla. ― Hundreds of Arkansas inmates and parolees are participating in a three-year federal pilot program that lets state and federal prisoners use financial aid to pay for college.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the program reverses a 1994 congressional ban on students in federal and state prisons from being eligible for Pell grants. Pell grants are federal funds that do not have to be repaid and are typically reserved for low-income families.

Inmates who are now otherwise eligible for federal financial aid ― including having high school diplomas or the equivalent GED degrees ― and who are eligible for release, especially within the next five years, could use the grants.

Since then, inmates have relied on limited institutional scholarships or families to pay the bill.