Pell and TAP

Pell and TAP Grants Reinstated for All Incarcerated Individuals

Pell Grants Reinstated for All Incarcerated Individuals

Since 1994, incarcerated students have been ineligible to receive  Pell and TAP funding. At the end of 2020, federal legislation was passed to restore Pell funding to all incarcerated individuals by the fall of 2023. Later, in April 2022 the New York State Legislature repealed the ban on the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) for incarcerated New Yorkers. The return of public funding for prison education is a huge step forward in creating equitable access to higher education, increasing opportunities for incarcerated individuals, and enabling SUNY to serve a greater number of incarcerated students in our communities.

SUNY HEP’s team and the Office of Student Financial Aid will be sharing information as it becomes available related to the implementation of Pell and TAP for incarcerated students. New York’s Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) is currently working on developing appropriate guidance related to TAP for incarcerated students and the U.S. Department of Education is working to establish regulations for Pell. In the meantime, we encourage campuses to work with their financial aid offers and our SUNY Higher education in prison community to identify new opportunities, best practices, and key challenges.

UPDATED: U.S. Department of Education: Prison Education Programs Questions and Answers

2019 Shawangunk Graduation; Photography by Babita Patel/Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison

What the expansion of higher education in prison means for SUNY

Below are a few ways the expanding field of higher education in prison may impact SUNY campuses: 

Additional Resources and References 

SUNY Resources 
How higher education in prison changes lives and communities
Faculty Recruitment Toolkit and Training Resource Guide 
SUNY Higher Education in Prison
SUNY’s Vision of Education Equity for Incarcerated People 

Further Reading and Research  
Changing Minds: The Impact of College in a Maximum Security Prison 
Equity and Excellence in Practice: A Guide for Higher Education in Prison Report  
Needed Specialists for a Challenging Task: Formerly Incarcerated Leaders' Essential Role in Postsecondary Programs in Prison 
Unlocking Potential: Pathways from Prison to Post-Secondary Education 
What Corrections Officials Need to Know to Partner with Colleges to Implement College Programs in Prisons

Second Chance Pell 

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Education created the Second Chance Pell (SCP) Experimental Sites Initiative to provide need-based Pell grants to those in state and federal prisons. Since it’s inception the initative led to helping incarcerated students earn over 7,000 credentials. As of 2022, 200 academic institutions across the country are participating in Second Chance, below are the eight SUNY campuses who are participating:

North Country Community College (2016)
Columbia Greene Community College (2020)
SUNY Adirondack Community College (2020)
SUNY College at Potsdam
Corning Community College (2022)
Herkimer County Community College (2022)
Jamestown Community College (2022)
SUNY Empire (2022)

News Articles

Financial Aid Is Restored for Prisoners as Part of the Stimulus Bill

Congress clinches deal to restore Pell grants for prisoners 26 years after ban

Congress lifts long-standing ban on Pell grants to people in prison

Congress Releases Bipartisan Year‑End Spending Deal FAFSA Simplification COVID Relief and Other Student Aid Provisions

US Department of Education

VERA Institute of Justice


Why does SUNY Matter?