Federal Government Grants For Ex-Offenders-Free Educational Grants
Although the topic is subject to debate, an education is said to help many ex-offenders straighten out their lives after serving a prison sentence. Earning a degree can give convicted felons incentive to find jobs to support themselves without having to resort to crime. But many recent parolees have no work lined up immediately after release to pay tuition, buy books and cover other educational costs. Government agencies and private organizations provide grants and other types of financial aid to help ex-offenders go to school.
U.S. departments of Justice, Education, Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development administer the Reentry Initiative.
Workforce Investment Act
Another place an ex-offender can find help with receiving an education after prison release is a One Stop Career Center. The centers receive funding provided by the Workforce Investment Act's Adult and Dislocated Worker program. WIA intends overall to help unemployed people and those at risk of losing their jobs update and improve skills and education and find jobs. The program helps unemployed people assess their skills, search for job openings and undergo training. One Stop centers give special preference to low-income people. There are some additional services, such as help with transportation and child care, available under certain circumstances.
Pell Grants are a form of federal financial aid to help low-income students afford the costs of a higher education. This can include ex-offenders, with certain exceptions. The program during the 2010 to 2011 school year gave up to $5,550 to individual students, based on financial information reported on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Ex-offenders cannot receive Pell grants if courts convict them on sex crime charges, regardless of whether they are violent or nonviolent offenses. The eligibility restriction applies for all Department of Education-administered student aid. Students can also lose funding if courts convict them of drug-related charges while they are receiving aid, but students can redeem their grants if they pass drug tests.
Like grants, scholarships can cover part or all of education costs for ex-offenders. There are some scholarships designated specifically for people with criminal convictions. The Charles W. Colson Scholarship, for example, will pay for tuition, room and board and medical insurance for a student to earn a degree at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill. Among the scholarship's eligibility requirements is that applicants must have spent at least one year in prison after a conviction of a serious offense. Ex-offenders can search for scholarships at other schools they are interested in, or through community groups and businesses.
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