Incarcerated men and women seeking a college education face challenges due to funding restraints, a new report finds.
Funding for incarcerated college students stalled when the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was enacted in 1994 and eliminated federally funded Pell grants. Student enrollments dropped 44% in one year, and 20 states reduced college courses.
The report, ITHAKA S+R (Unbarring Access) found that Pell grants cover a small percentage of incarcerated college students. The numbers could be dropping even lower.
Some prisons prioritize access to higher education based on the amount of time that person has left on his or her sentence.
Several barriers also hinder efficient higher education:
• Write ups, (Prison infractions)
• No GED or High school diploma
• Crime and conviction
• Tab test
• Length of incarceration
• No U.S. citizen and
social security number
• No one receives a Second Chance Pell grant if the applicant has any government loans in default or has not registered for Selective Service.
• Funds are suspended if the incarcerated student is convicted for the sale or use of illegal drugs.
The report said prison education programs use a “carrot for good behavior,” an incentive for those incarcerated who “behave the best.”
Despite push back from correctional officers, the report found programs have awarded thousands of Associate, Bachelor’s and even Master’s degrees across the nation since 1972.