BLOOMSBURG—Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania’s participation in the U.S. Department of Education pilot program offering Pell grants to incarcerated students was recently featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Writer Kelly Field looked at the program that aims to reduce the rate of recidivism.
Second Chance Pell enrolls about 7,000 prisoners across the country. BU enrolls 25 Pell-eligible students in the program which is now in its third semester focusing on the State Correctional Institution-Muncy and State Correctional Institution-Mahanoy. Most participating prisoners are scheduled for release within the next five years.
“This initiative has the potential to change the trajectory for the life of numerous inmates and their families and communities,” said Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel when the program was announced in June 2016. Wetzel graduated from BU in 1998 and serves on its Council of Trustees.
The federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income students to promote access to post-secondary education. Unlike a loan, a Pell grant does not require repayment. The Second Chance Pell program is estimated to comprise less than one-tenth of 1 percent of total Pell spending.
Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 9,600 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Education, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.