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Beyond Pell Restoration: Addressing Persistent Funding Challenges in Prison Higher Education Toward Racial and Economic Justice

Author(s): Erin Castro, Caisa E. Royer, Amy E. Lerman, Mary R. Gould

Publisher: Alliance for Higher Education in Prison

Year: 2022


This brief report outlines the potential impacts of Pell restoration on the field of higher
education in prison. 1Using original qualitative data from interviews with 12 higher
education in prison programs and quantitative data from a national survey of college
programs in prison, our analysis focuses on persistent funding challenges that the Pell grant
alone cannot address. Specifically, we highlight three distinct and pressing challenges for
the field of higher education in light of Pell restoration, and related to: 1. access to funding
other than FAFSA, including college/university specific scholarships; 2. administrative
sustainability and funding, and key stakeholder alignment on program vision and offerings,
and 3. access to student support services. Ultimately, we argue that the effects of Pell
reinstatement on access to higher education will depend on whether it is accompanied by
investments in a broader range of institutional infrastructures and resources. The report
concludes with recommendations to adequately and responsibly support the growth and
quality of higher education in prison programs. 

Last Updated: 7/18/22