Caddell Kivett is ready to go back to college. He sorted out some old, defaulted student loans. He figured out what he wants to study. And he thought he had found a new way to pay for his classes.

Except Kivett, 52, is in prison. 

He’ll be able, in theory, to use a federal Pell Grant to help pay for his education come July. It marks the first time in nearly three decades that incarcerated people – as many as 700,000 of them, according to the Education Department – are broadly eligible for the aid, and the policy change could open up new college opportunities across the country.

The expansion of Pell Grants has been a long-sought change since the 1994 crime bill eliminated them for people in prison and ended the majority of prison education programs. Although educating people in prison has been shown to have a number of benefits, the new money may be difficult for many to access for a host of reasons.


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