Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the National Conference on Higher Education in Prison.

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GENERAL NCHEP FAQs

Q: What is the purpose of the National Conference on Higher Education in Prison (NCHEP)?

A: The overall purpose of NCHEP is to provide an annual opportunity for the higher education in prison community to gather and mobilize the talent, resources, and energy needed to expand access to quality higher education and academic reentry support services to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. 


Q: When was the first NCHEP and who hosted it?

A: The Education Justice Project at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, hosted the first NCHEP in 2010. About 75 people attended the 2.5-day conference. 


Q: When did the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison start hosting NCHEP?

A: The Alliance started hosting NCHEP in 2017, which was the 7th annual NCHEP. The Alliance recognized that by hosting NCHEP on an annual basis, it could provide stability and consistency while increasing accessibility and equitable opportunity to those interested in attending the conference, which is a growing number each year, and alleviate the responsibility of assuming the  significant costs (material and individual) from any program in the community.  


Q: How is NCHEP funded?

A: A mix of private foundation funding and individual donations supports the conference. This funding helps cover the costs of the conference from hotel space to financial aid. Individual registration fees help to cover the expenses related to attendance, including all meals for all attendees. Registration fees do not support the  Financial Aid Program, which is solely supported by funds raised by the Alliance. 


Q: Who plans the NCHEP? 

A: The Alliance for Higher Education in Prison first hosted the NCHEP in 2017, the 7th annual conference. Planning involved a collaboration between staff, the Alliance Advisory Board, and a planning committee made up of 12-15 self-nominated community members. After carefully compiling comprehensive Exit Reports (available here), which include extensive feedback from the community and the team’s honest assessments of previous NCHEPs, the Alliance decided to perform several changes in the way the conference will be planned, starting in 2021. More specifically, the Alliance’s intention is to continue evolving in the way it engages the community, and in the ways the community can engage the Alliance and the broader field of higher education in prison in return. In an effort to offer opportunities for more community members to participate in the planning process, we will solicit community suggestions, ideas, and feedback through multiple open discussions and surveys on topics such as the conference theme, keynote speakers, special events, etc. The Alliance believes that these efforts will generate a significant structure for the planning of the 2021 NCHEP and of future conferences. Visit our webpage to stay updated about the changes that will be in place for the National Conference on Higher Education in Prison.


Q: Why has NCHEP moved around each year?

A: Year after year, NCHEP has grown in both attendance and the types and number of events it has offered. By 2016, almost 300 people were registering for the conference! Organizing the conference presented a big undertaking and volunteers did most of the work. Organizations – universities, higher education in prison programs, and community partners – took turns hosting the conference as a way to share the workload as well as the financial burden associated with hosting. An official selection process did not exist; conference hosts were always identified and selected “on the spot” at the end of the previous year’s conference. The conference being hosted in various locations helps to ensure community members and programs in those cities can attend the conference while also providing new opportunities for connection and collaboration with community members who may not have been able to attend a conference before. The Alliance makes an effort to keep the conference within the Mountain or Central Timezones: it is our hope that this factor will alleviate the burden of traveling through multiple time zones for many participants. Additionally, we try to host NCHEP in cities that are easily accessible in order to keep the potential costs of travel as low as possible.  


Q: Why has the registration fee fluctuated year-to-year?

A: The cost of the conference fluctuates, depending on the location in which the conference will be held (city and hotel). Individual registration fees help to cover the expenses related to attendance (i.e., audio/video technology, meals, printing) and allow other funding that is raised to be used for Financial Aid packages for community members who would be unable to attend otherwise. 


Q: What does it cost to host the NCHEP? 

A: The cost for each NCHEP is different depending on location, market prices, amount of attendees, etc. Please visit the Exit Reports to view the cost of past conferences hosted by the Alliance. 


Q: Who can apply for NCHEP Financial Aid packages, and how are they funded?  

A: Anyone without institutional/program travel support is eligible to apply for financial aid, but formerly incarcerated students are prioritized. Scholarships are funded by private foundation support that is raised by the Alliance. Scholarships are not funded by registration fees. Respondents to the 2019 Exit Surveys indicated that the financial aid packages, by and large, provided support for the full cost of the conference, including registration, transportation, hotel, and all meals for the duration of the conference.


Q: Can people who are currently incarcerated submit a proposal and present at the conference?

A: Absolutely. Those who are currently incarcerated are encouraged to apply and will be able to participate in the NCHEP via a virtual connection which can be arranged for any of the presentation types. Additionally, currently incarcerated scholars will be able to send a pre-recorded presentation or appoint a delegate who will read their work.


Q: Who will review my presentation?

A: Each year a team of external reviewers apply and are selected to review submissions. All proposal reviewers have experience and/or expertise related to the topic for which they have been selected as a reviewer, and reviewers represent the dynamic makeup of the field.


Q: How many proposals can I submit?

A: Conference participants may only be the lead submitter for one proposal to the 2021 NCHEP. Conference space is limited, and as the conference grows, we do not have the capacity to support presenters making multiple proposals. It is possible to be a co-presenter on additional sessions, but the session will need to be submitted by someone else.


Q: How and when will I know if my submission was accepted or declined?

A: The Alliance for Higher Education in Prison will represent the decision of the External Reviewers by sending an email or letter to the person who submitted the proposal with an accept/decline decision message included. Presenters who have identified co-presenters in their proposals should also notify their co-authors/presenters at this stage.


Q: What services are available for accommodation requests?

A: The NCHEP Planning Team makes every effort to support accommodation requests and the full participation of all attendees. Please contact nchep@higheredinprison.org no later than one month before the start of the conference to request any needed accommodations or include your accommodation request(s) during the registration process. If you have dietary preferences, please be sure to mark those on the space provided on the registration form when you complete it.


Q: What does it mean to be an Emerging Scholar, and who can use the designation?

A: Emerging Scholars are, for example, undergraduate or graduate students (formerly incarcerated or not) starting, or at the very early stages of, their scholarly careers. Alternatively, they may be scholars who have little experience with conference presentations. This community may also include those new to the NCHEP conference. The intention of this designation is to ensure that the conference experiences provide effective learning opportunities for all participants, and that the presentation review process is equitable and accessible to communities across the field. If this designation is selected, the Emerging Scholar will present with other Emerging Scholars whenever possible, and scholars accepted under the Emerging Scholars designation will access support from the Conference Planning Team in order to prepare their presentations.

Q: How can I find out more about the NCHEP? 

A: Please visit the About the NCHEP page on the Alliance’s website for information about the NCHEP (past and present).


Q: How can I ask more questions? 

A: There are three ways to receive more information: 

  1. Send us an email: nchep@higheredinprison.org; or 
  2. Use the Comments/Suggestions link on our website (and we will add answers to this FAQ);

Share anonymous feedback on this year's conference planning by completing this form.