News & Events / IHEP Applauds Congressional Support for Quality Higher Education Opportunities for People who are Incarcerated through Restoration of Pell Eligibility in Year-End Omnibus Package

IHEP Applauds Congressional Support for Quality Higher Education Opportunities for People who are Incarcerated through Restoration of Pell Eligibility in Year-End Omnibus Package

Published Dec 21, 2020

Washington, D.C. – On December 21, 2020, Congressional leaders passed an omnibus spending bill that would reinstate Pell Grants for people who are incarcerated across the country. The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) applauds this historic development to advance educational opportunities and strengthen communities and urges the White House to sign the bill into law. Michelle Asha Cooper, IHEP President, released the following statement:

“The power of higher education to improve one’s trajectory in life is perhaps nowhere more visible – or more needed – than in our nation’s correctional facilities. We thank our federal lawmakers for recognizing this transformative potential and agreeing to restore Pell Grant eligibility for people involved in the justice system. Nearly ninety-four percent of the people currently incarcerated across the United States do not have a postsecondary degree, which disproportionately includes populations that have been historically excluded from our system of higher education. Beyond decreasing recidivism, quality prison-based higher education programs have been shown to deliver strong outcomes for students, families, facilities, and communities.

The benefits of higher education in prison include increased rates of civic engagement, meaningful employment, stable housing, continued postsecondary attainment, and successful reentry. In short, these programs hold the unique potential to close racial and income-based gaps in educational attainment, disrupt the cycle of racial disparities in our justice system, and create a stronger and more equitable society. We applaud Congress for this bipartisan win and urge the White House to promptly sign the bill.”