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Pell Grants Return for the Incarcerated, but Applying Remains a Challenge

About This Video

This video is part of a yearlong Chronicle visual series that highlights the challenges facing students from underrepresented and underserved communities. The series is part of the Different Voices of Student Success project, which is supported by the Ascendium Education Group.

The explanatory video was created and animated by Crudo Creative. Erica Lusk, senior photo and media editor, wrote the script and directed the project. Katherine Mangan, senior writer, contributed to the research. Carmen Mendoza, senior web producer, Michael Theis, photo and media editor, and Luna Laliberte, editorial-events coordinator, assisted with interviews.

Prison education has long been a part of America’s culture. For the better part of the 20th century, formal education programs played an important role in efforts to rehabilitate incarcerated individuals. Yet paying higher-education fees has always presented challenges. Difficulties increased drastically in 1994 when the U.S. government, believing that taxpayers should not cover college costs for those convicted of crimes, stripped the incarcerated of their ability to apply for Pell Grants. This became the law of the land for two decades. Now, their access to Pell Grants has been restored and the process to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid has been simplified. Here’s the story of how we got here and where we’re headed.