The U.S. Department of Education is asking colleges to review how they support formerly incarcerated students, including offering digital literacy training and ensuring students have broadband and technology access.
The call comes ahead of the reinstatement of Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals this July, which will enable hundreds of thousands of inmates to potentially pursue a federally funded college education online or in-person — an option that has not been available since the 1990s.
Amy Loyd, assistant secretary for the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, said in an recent blog post that expanding access to education in jails and prisons will help more individuals access good jobs and reintegrate into society.
“This Second Chance Month—especially as our nation prepares for the July 2023 full reinstatement of federal Pell Grants for individuals who are incarcerated—ED calls upon institutions across the country to re-examine their admissions and student service policies and holistically determine how they can better serve and support current and formerly incarcerated students,” Loyd wrote.
The department updated a best practice guide for colleges working with justice-involved students last week, outlining the barriers that formerly incarcerated students face during the admissions process and beyond.
The report, called Beyond the Box, suggests that institutions step up digital literacy training for students, as well as consider access to technology and broadband an “emerging basic need.”