Hostos Community College has been selected to participate in a pilot program that will allow people who are in jail to receive federal Pell grants to study when they are released.
Hostos is one of 67 schools around the country that will take part in Second Chance Pell, which is designed to allow more than 12,000 prisoners around the country to receive those education grants.
Congress banned the use of Pell grants for prisoners in 1994, but President Obama is using his authority under the Higher Education Act to push the program through. Officials say they will study the cost and benefits of the program to communities, in trying to determine if it can work long term.
“Individuals who have almost finished paying their debt to society and are on the verge of reentry should be given every opportunity to succeed,” said Rep. Jose E. Serrano, who represents the 15th Congressional District, which includes Mott Haven and Hunts Point. “Unfortunately, they continue to face enormous barriers in gaining steady employment or furthering their education, which often results in returning to criminal behavior, driving up the criminal justice system’s reincarceration costs.”
Serrano added that he expects the program “will finally show that education is a pathway out of poverty and a life of crime,” as well as a way to persuade Congress to reconsider the use of Pell grants for prisoners when they are released.