Resource Community Higher Education in Prison

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Prison Education Programs: Frequently Asked Questions

Other than statutory and regulatory requirements included in the document, the contents of this guidance do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public. This guidance is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.

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Press Release: U.S. Department of Education Announces Expansion of Second Chance Pell Experiment and Actions to Help Incarcerated Individuals Resume Educational Journeys and Reduce Recidivism

On April 26, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education announced actions to help incarcerated individuals access educational programs as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s broader efforts to support reentry, empower formerly incarcerated persons, enhance public safety, and strengthen our communities and our economy. The Department has invited 73 colleges and universities to participate in the third round of the Second Chance Pell Experiment, an initiative first launched by the Obama-Biden Administration to expand access to Federal Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals enrolled in participating programs.

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Highlights from the U.S. PIAAC Survey of Incarcerated Adults: Their Skills, Work Experience, Education, and Training

This report highlights data from the U.S. PIAAC Survey of Incarcerated Adults and its extensive background questionnaire and direct assessments of cognitive skills. It examines the skills of incarcerated adults in relationship to their work experiences and to their education and training in prison.

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Educational Technology in Corrections

This policy brief looks broadly at the challenges in and opportunities for expanding and
improving educational services for incarcerated individuals through the use of educational
technology, and empowering teachers and learners in correctional settings.

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Prison Education Program Application Form

This form is to be completed by institutions of higher education or postsecondary vocational
institutions (institutions) applying to the Department of Education (Department) for approval of a
Prison Education Program (PEP) in collaboration with the appropriate State department of
corrections or other entity responsible for overseeing correctional facilities or the Federal
Bureau of Prisons, if applicable (Oversight entity).

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Application for Approval to Participate in the Federal Student Financial Aid Programs (E-App)

Postsecondary institutions use the E-App to apply for designation as an eligible institution, initial participation, recertification, reinstatement, change in ownership, or to update a current approval.
Updates include changes such as, but not limited to, name or address change, new location or program, increased level of offering, change of officials, or mailing address for publications.

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2023-2024 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for Incarcerated Students (Spanish Version)

This is a Spanish translation of an existing application. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in the financial aid process. You use the FAFSA form to apply for federal student aid,
such as grants, work-study, and loans. In addition, most states and colleges use
information from the FAFSA form to award nonfederal aid.

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Integrating Technology and Planning for Emergencies

This webinar presents research and professional perspectives on the use of technology in prison education programs. The discussion covers how programs can be intentional and thoughtful in their use of technology, how corrections departments can navigate technology vetting and protocols, and how programs can adjust to unexpected circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

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From Corrections to College in California: an Evaluation of Student Support During and After Incarceration

A report summarizing findings from an evaluation of the Vera Institute of Justice's Renewing Communities initiative between 2016 and 2019. The findings of Vera’s study, summarized here, draw on program data from, and student surveys administered at, all 14 sites. In-depth qualitative research was conducted at five of the community-based programs, housed at different colleges and universities across California.

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Lessons from Second Chance Pell: a Toolkit for Helping Incarcerated Students Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid

Drawing on the experiences of the first group of Second Chance Pell colleges, this toolkit, drafted in collaboration with the Chemeketa Community College, is designed to aid new and existing participants as they guide students through the complexities of filing for federal financial aid in prison, including completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA.

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Investing in Futures: Economic and Fiscal Benefits of Postsecondary Education in Prison

This report, which is the result of a collaborative effort with the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, describes how lifting the current ban on awarding Pell Grants to incarcerated people would benefit workers, employers, and states. Specifically, it analyzes the potential employment and earnings impact of postsecondary education programs in prison; identifies the millions of job openings annually that require the skills a person in prison could acquire through postsecondary education; and estimates the money states would save through lower recidivism rates these postsecondary education programs would yield.

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Unlocking Potential: Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education

This report describes the design and implementation of the Vera Institute of Justice's Unlocking Potential: Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education project. It also outlines the experiences of Pathways partners and students and provides recommendations on policy and practice for college programs with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students.

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Getting Out of Student Loan Default with Fresh Start

Fresh Start is a one-time, temporary program from the
U.S. Department of Education (ED) that offers special benefits for borrowers with defaulted federal student loans.
Fresh Start automatically gives you some benefits,
such as restoring access to federal student aid grants
and post-release loans). But you need to act to claim the full benefits of Fresh Start and get out of
default.

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Getting Out of Student Loan Default with Fresh Start

Fresh Start is a one-time, temporary program from the
U.S. Department of Education (ED) that offers special benefits for borrowers with defaulted federal student loans.
Fresh Start automatically gives you some benefits,
such as restoring access to federal student aid grants
and post-release loans). But you need to act to claim the full benefits of Fresh Start and get out of
default.

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Achieving Quality and Success through Student Services

This webinar explores the key components, challenges, and possible solutions to delivering high-quality academic advising, specifically for students enrolled in postsecondary education in prison programs. Panelists share how their institutions provide counseling services and academic advising in order to support student success in carceral settings.

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Recruiting and Training Faculty and Staff: How To Effectively Enroll/Register Students and Recruit and Hire System-Impacted People

This webinar explores how organizations and educational programming can effectively recruit and train leaders and staff. Specifically, this webinar provides insight into important hiring techniques to ensure that formerly incarcerated people have significant roles in the work that impacts them and their communities.

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Establishing a Partnership via a Memorandum of Understanding: Determining Funding, Financial Aid, and Budgets

This webinar features multiple perspectives from professionals in the field of higher education in prison on developing Memorandums of Understanding (MOU). These experts provide valuable advice on negotiating and collaborating with various stakeholders and navigating multiple financial considerations throughout the development of the MOU.