Seattle Central invited to participate in Department of Education pilot program

News Release
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David Sandler | Public Information Officer
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New program will help incarcerated students access Pell grants for correctional education

Seattle Central College is one of 67 colleges and universities nationwide selected to participate in the Department of Education’s new Second Chance Pell pilot program, designed to provide better access to educational opportunities for incarcerated individuals.

The program will allow eligible incarcerated Americans to receive Pell Grants to pursue a college education, with the goal of helping them prepare for jobs so they can support themselves and their families upon release. Seattle Central is currently working with University Beyond Bars, a non-profit organization, to provide classes to inmates at Monroe Correctional Facility in Monroe, Wash. Under this new program, the college will continue this partnership and will be able to provide Federal Pell Grants to cover the cost of tuition and fees. This will make Seattle Central’s courses and programs accessible to potentially many more inmates. Seattle Central joins two other colleges in Washington state to participate in this pilot – Centralia College and Tacoma Community College.

“We know that people who take advantage of educational opportunities while serving their sentences are less likely to reoffend and more likely to become productive members of our communities. Seattle Central is proud to contribute to this effort by offering high-quality instructional programs that will provide inmates with valuable skills to succeed,” said President Sheila Edwards Lange, Ph.D.

Previously, inmates did not qualify for Pell Grants, limiting their educational options. According to the Department of Education, this program fits with the Obama Administration’s commitment to create a fairer and more effective criminal justice system by reducing recidivism and mitigating the impact of mass incarceration on families and communities.

“This is about giving people who have paid their debts to society a meaningful second chance. This pilot program will help give individuals the opportunity to turn their lives around by entering higher education and pursuing a job to support themselves, and to avoid falling back into the criminal justice system. Seattle Central College will be a great partner in this pilot project that will help create safer communities, reduce the impact of mass incarceration on families, and ultimately help save taxpayer money. I am glad to continue working with them and the Department of Education to increase access to education to those who are often overlooked in our society,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said. She has been a strong supporter of Pell Grants as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Education Committee.