NAICU Washington Update

Department of Education Clarifies Aid Eligibility for Incarcerated Students

December 10, 2014

Due to questions concerning the complexity of determining Federal financial aid eligibility for incarcerated students, the Department of Education, as part of a joint announcement with the Department of Justice, published guidance to address those questions and clarify the requirements.

The clarification reiterates earlier guidance on the definition of “incarcerated,” provides distinctions on eligibility of individuals at various types of correctional facilities, and defines the differences between eligibility for Pell Grants and for Title IV student loans. It also, for the first time, makes clear that students who are committed to juvenile detention facilities are eligible for Pell Grants. Key points defining the eligibility guidance include:

  • No individual who is incarcerated in any correctional facility may receive a Title IV student loan.
  • No individual who is incarcerated at a Federal or State penal institution may receive a Pell Grant.
  • No individual who is subject to involuntary civil commitment upon completion of a period of incarceration for a forcible or non-forcible sexual offense may receive a Pell Grant or a student loan.
  • Otherwise eligible individuals in local or county jails, penitentiaries, and correctional facilities are eligible for Pell Grants.
  • Otherwise eligible individuals in juvenile justice facilities are eligible for Pell Grants.
  • In determining the Pell Grant, the cost of attendance may only include tuition, fees, books, and supplies. No living expenses may be included.

The student aid eligibility guidance was part of a larger guidance package that will provide quality educational opportunities for students while incarcerated. Besides the student aid information, it included guidance on the treatment of individuals with disabilities who are in correctional facilities, and the civil rights of students in juvenile justice residential facilities

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