Report from Vera: The First Year of Pell Restoration

July 10, 2024

Report Authors

  • Niloufer Taber
  • Amanda Nowak
  • Maurice Smith
  • Jennifer Yang
  • Celia Strumph

Report Overview

Pell Grant restoration took effect on July 1, 2023, making incarcerated people in the United States eligible for need-based federal postsecondary financial aid for the first time in nearly 30 years. Since the launch of the Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative (SCP) in 2016, more than 45,000 incarcerated students have enrolled in SCP programs. Today, there are more than 750,000 people in prison eligible to enroll in a postsecondary program.

As the landscape of postsecondary education in prison evolves, so does its potential. In this report, the Vera Institute of Justice offers a snapshot of national progress toward implementation using the interconnected domains of quality, equity, and scale through a “balanced scorecard” approach. Drawing on data collected from surveys to SCP colleges and corrections agencies, the report aggregates individual responses to evaluate the adequacy and the system of education offered to incarcerated people. The result is a snapshot of the progress colleges and corrections agencies have made over the first year of this new era of access and opportunity.

Key Takeaway

Serving students in prisons requires collaboration and cooperation across a range of stakeholders. Vera assessed quality, equity, and scale through data aggregated at the level of each jurisdiction. The measures in this report are an invitation for collaboration among stakeholders with the goal of offering high quality programs to incarcerated people.