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Pell is Not Enough: Exploring the Experiences of Participants in Second Chance Pell



Exploring the Experiences of Second Chance Pell is a mixed methods research study examining the implementation and facilitation of the Second Chance Pell Experiment, originally launched in 2015. Conducted over three years and with support from Lumina Foundation, the research includes data collected from staff, students, and alumni affiliated with 9 higher education institutions. A total of 12 research briefs comprise the series. The title represents a general theme that runs strongly throughout the research, pointing to a reality that leaders of prison higher education must address: that is, the Pell grant, in and of itself, is insufficient to address inequity issues in participation nor provide high quality postsecondary education and student services during incarceration. We provide empirical evidence gathered from over 100 incarcerated students and alumni and non-incarcerated alumni, 20 practitioners of prison higher education, and 12 higher education administrators in the offices of financial aid, admissions or enrollment management, and registrar or related unit. With a reduced sample, we draw from disaggregated student-level information to calculate the total number of Pell recipients during a truncated timeframe and estimate their total share of overall enrollment. Using these data, we examine Second Chance Pell recipients by sex, race, and age, and whether participants in the first cohort ultimately earned a credential. Finally, we examine which, if any, credential(s) incarcerated participants earned using the Pell grant.

Research Team

Erin L. Castro

Caisa E. Royer

Stephanie Gaskill

Estefanie Aguilar-Padilla








Last Updated: 10/26/22