Spending time in prison shouldn’t mean that you are excluded from pursuing an education like the rest of America. College expenses are expensive and you may not have the funds to cover tuition and books. Regardless of what you were convicted for, there is college grant money for ex-inmates as long as you know where to look.
Federal grants are limited but you may be able to get some of them. You will need to fill out the FAFSA. www.fafsa.ed.gov You will not be eligible for the Pell grant but there are others as linked to the Second Chance Act where states and institutions are given money to help ex-inmates transition back into society and contribute in a positive fashion.
You will need to look at private organizations that will fund your education. There are many organizations that will do this and both grants and scholarships do not need to be paid back – it is free money.
Depending upon where you reside, you will be eligible for various grants. Many states have been given money by the Justice Department to help fund grants for part of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative. The award amounts will vary from state to state and you can either ask a state official, do a search or ask your parole officer about these options.
The National Criminal Justice Reference Center (NCJRC) will be a great resource to look for grant money as well. The Justice Department is constantly being given money for ways to offer transitions from prison to community. These will again be based upon where you reside but will offer significant amounts of money to get your education started.
You will also want to check with the school that you are interested in attending. Grants come into schools all the time to help with education and it is the financial aid department’s goal to find ways for you to pay for college. It is them that will be reaping the benefit, too, since the check will go to them. George Mason University is one such school that offers ex-inmate assistance.
You may also want to consider for minority and women’s scholarships instead of focusing on the ex-inmate aspect of trying to get money. While you will have to announce on the application that you were a convicted felon and for what charges, it does not automatically exclude you from many scholarships and grants that are available. The United Negro College Fund and the Hispanic Fund are both ones to check out.
There are always opportunities to get college grant money – for ex-inmates or otherwise. You may need to apply to several, however they cost nothing to apply and will only take a little time.