This guidance is specific to the 2023-24 award year and later.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) will not regulate the cost of attendance (COA) for prison education programs (PEPs). Effective July 1, 2023, changes to Section 472 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended, [20 USC 1098LL(a)(7)], require that the COA for an incarcerated or confined student include "only tuition, fees, books, course materials, supplies, equipment, and the cost of obtaining a license, certification, or a first professional credential in accordance with paragraph (14)." Note that effective with the July 1, 2023 changes to the HEA, the cost of obtaining a first professional credential is no longer an optional component of the COA; if the academic program leads to a professional license, certification, or credential, then these actual or average costs must be included as a separate cost component in the COA.
Other regulatory changes effective July 1, 2023, as announced in the October 28, 2022 Federal Register, state that the amount of a Federal Pell Grant received by an incarcerated or confined student may not exceed the COA at the institution the student attends [see 34 CFR 690.62(b)(1)]. The Pell Grant for such a student must be reduced until the amount of the Pell Grant does not exceed the COA and does not result in a Title IV credit balance. Additionally, if the incarcerated or confined student receives other financial assistance, which combined with the Pell Grant, exceeds the student's COA, the other financial assistance must be reduced by the amount that the total financial assistance exceeds the COA. If the student's other financial assistance cannot be reduced, the Pell Grant must be reduced so that the total financial assistance does not exceed the COA.
See also See also 34 CFR 690.62, GEN-23-05, and ED's Prison Education Program Questions and Answers website.
Note: Effective with the 2023-24 award year, the COA component for “books and supplies” has been renamed “books, course materials, supplies, and equipment.”
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