This guidance is specific to the 2023-24 award year and later.
An incarcerated student is eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, provided the student is enrolled in an eligible prison education program (PEP). Refer to the final rules published in the October 28, 2022 Federal Register. No student who is incarcerated can receive a Direct Loan. [34 CFR 668.32(c)(3)].
Effective July 1, 2023, a confined or incarcerated individual is defined as “An individual who is serving a criminal sentence in a Federal, State, or local penitentiary, prison, jail, reformatory, work farm, juvenile justice facility, or other similar correctional institution. An individual is not considered incarcerated if that individual is subject to or serving an involuntary civil commitment, in a half-way house or home detention, or is sentenced to serve only weekends.” (See 34 CFR 600.2)
See also GEN-23-05, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) Prison Education Program Questions and Answers website, the ED Confined or Incarcerated Student Fact Sheet, and the Prison Education Programs Topics website.
Student Aid Reference Desk: For additional information, try the Student Aid Reference Desk. It is a central hub of all the important financial aid resources you need with direct links to legislation, regulation, Dear Colleague Letters, and other ED and NASFAA references. It is updated on a rolling basis with the latest news and changes. Search Student Eligibility.
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