NYC College Aid For Ex-Inmates Fills Some Pell Grant Gap


Sharon White, who was paroled after 11 years in prison for manslaughter, and Marcelino Guillen, who was released on parole after serving five years for selling cocaine, are students at New York City’s Lehman College pursuing bachelor's degrees in social work, says the New York Times. They are aided by a program devoted to giving people with criminal histories “know-how and support” to apply for and succeed in college, said director Benay Rubenstein.

Rubenstein has moved the College Initiative from Episcopal Social Services to John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where president Jeremy Travis started a Prisoner Re-entry Institute. The initiative helps former prisoners with academic, financial-aid and admissions counseling, and job and housing problems. It offers a course in computer skills and in preparing for the math and English sections of the City University entrance exams, said Debbie Mukamal, institute director. In 1994, Congress removed inmates from eligibility for Pell Grants, a key federal program of aid to low-income students that was the financial backbone of most in-prison college programs. About 25,000 inmates taking part in such programs with Pell Grants had their education ended.


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