Alexander Statement on Administration Plan to Give Pell Grants to Prisoners

Posted on July 31, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 31 – Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on the administration’s plan to make some state and federal prisoners eligible for Pell grants:

“This may be a worthwhile idea for some prisoners, but the administration absolutely does not have the authority to do this without approval from Congress, because the Higher Education Act prohibits prisoners from receiving Pell Grants. The Obama Administration should focus on the existing prisoner job training and re-entry programs through the Departments of Justice and Labor for which Congress provided nearly $300 million last year. Congress can address changes to Pell grants as part of the Senate education committee’s work to reauthorize the Higher Education Act this fall."

In 1992, amendments to the Higher Education Act banned Pell grants for prisoners serving a life sentence or sentenced to death. Congress completely banned prisoners from being eligible for Pell grants in 1994 through the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.

The Senate education committee has held seven hearings as it works to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, which Chairman Alexander has said the committee intends to do this fall. 

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For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.

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