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Can a Felon Qualify for a Pell Grant?

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Life after a felony is a huge challenge as felons know all too well.  It can seem as though the entire world is against them, that they have been abandoned.

Finding a job with a felony conviction is difficult.

One way to begin a new career is to get more education.  Of course, this can be expensive, and felons may not have the financial resources to afford this education.

This blog post will address the question of whether a felon can qualify for a Pell Grant.

  • What is a Pell Grant?
  • Eligibility as a Felon
  • Making Their Case for a Pell Grant
  • Supporting a Felon in Applying for a Pell Grant


What is a Pell Grant?

One type of money provided by the government for students with financial need is a Pell Grant.  As the name suggests, this is a grant which does not have to be repaid like a loan.

To be considered for a Pell Grant, applicants must:

  • Be an undergraduate student who has not completed a bachelor’s degree.
  • Be enrolled as a student in an eligible degree or certificate program.
  • Have a high school diploma or a GED.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.

To qualify as having financial need, applicants must apply for a Pell Grant and all other financial aid programs by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

As part of this, a score, the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), is calculated.  This figure will determine an applicant’s eligibility for a Pell Grant.

It is essential for felons to be honest about their finances when completing the FAFSA.  Providing false information can result in having their application rejected and being ineligible for any type of grant or loan.

Eligibility as a Felon

Many types of student financial aid are restricted for felons.  However, felons can qualify for a Pell Grant under certain conditions.  Most will probably qualify for financial assistance since their finances are typically limited.

Felons cannot be incarcerated in a federal or state prison during the time they would receive a Pell Grant.  Felons may apply for a Pell Grant during incarceration, but they must be released by the time they would receive it.

Drug and sex offenses may restrict receiving this grant.  Other offenses typically do not prevent receiving a Pell Grant.

For felons convicted of a drug offense, they can regain eligibility for the grant by completing an approved drug treatment program or successfully pass two random drug tests from an approved drug rehabilitation program.

Those with two convictions for sale of illegal drugs will have their eligibility restricted indefinitely.  For possession of drugs, three convictions will result in indefinite ineligibility for a Pell Grant.

Felons who are already receiving a Pell Grant funding when they are convicted of a drug crime will have their funding restricted unless they complete an approved drug treatment program or pass two random drug tests administered by an approved facility.

Making Their Case for a Pell Grant

Felons must take their situation seriously and have a goal of continuing their education.  No, it won’t be easy.

But there is an opportunity available to those who want it.

Doing the things that it will take to reach that goal and get that education will be challenging, but what hasn’t been since leaving prison?

Felons need to be willing to do what it takes.

If their felony didn’t involve drugs or a sex offense, felons are in a position to apply for a grant.

Felons with a drug offense have the opportunity to become eligible for a Pell Grant by successfully completing an approved drug treatment program.

Supporting a Felon in Applying for a Pell Grant

An important factor is the support of family and friends.

This is when they can step forward and be honest with their loved one.  Don’t let them set themselves up for failure.

This is typically when felons decide to continue to live an honest life or return to their criminal ways.  Applying for an academic program is a major step in returning to society and beginning a successful career.

It is expensive to attend school, but there are loans available even if they do not qualify for a Pell Grant.

Do everything possible to support their dream and help them succeed.

When considering a possible career and living an honest life, it is important.

What do you think about this blog post?  Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get a Pell Grant with a felony?  What was like for them, and how did they achieve success?  Please tell us in the comments below.

1 thought on “Can a Felon Qualify for a Pell Grant?”

  1. My son has a felony on his record, is about to be released and wants to attend college. What are the first steps we need to take in order to help him apply for loans and grants?


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