A greater level of opportunity is coming to a group that may be typically overlooked.

Incarcerated individuals have long been a part of programs that allow them to expand their education.

The funds used to support these educational efforts are funded by the United States Pell Grant. However, the funds are increasing, allowing an estimated 30,000 more people to earn a college degree.

The Associated Press reports the grant program that supports college education for incarcerated individuals will expand in July 2023 and offer about $130 million in financial aid per year.

This expansion is an overturning response to the 1994 ban on Pell Grants for the incarcerated outlined in the infamous Crime Bill during the the Clinton Administration, according to Penn Carey Law at the University of Pennsylvania.

Furthermore, the Vera Institute of Justice notes that the component of the bill not only stripped away access to financial aid for prisoners but also led to the decrease of 700 programs in the early 1990s to only eight by 1997.

However, Congress voted to reverse the Pell Grant ban in December 2020, making way for the expansion that’s happening now.

With open access to educational programs and the financial increase to come, colleges can now take advantage of the grant funds to offer degree programs at prisons. And, to no surprise, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have stepped up to the plate.

For example, a previous report from AfroTech showed that Morehouse College offers courses to Georgia inmates as a part of its Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership.

Howard University, Claflin University, and Lane College are also a part of the HBCU community offering college courses to the incarcerated.

In addition to HBCU participation, California is an example of how this program is consistently working. The Associated Press further reported that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation had 200 students in its bachelor’s program for the spring semester in 2023.

Additional access to financial aid means those who are incarcerated could have a better chance of navigating life after their sentence.