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Pell Grants For Prisoners Could Save Illinois Millions

Illinois could save millions of dollars on incarceration costs if the federal ban on Pell Grants for inmates was lifted, according to a new report from the Vera Institute of Justice. Pell Grants are awarded to low-income undergraduate students to help them pay for college. The report, called “Investing in Futures: Fiscal Benefits of Postsecondary Education in Prison,” cites numerous economic and other benefits to states across the country if prisoners were able to apply for and receive federal Pell Grants.

Inmates, who had previously been eligible, were barred from receiving Pell Grants under the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act signed into law by then-president Bill Clinton. The federal government estimates that about 23,000 incarcerated people lost access to Pell Grants.

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