July 26, 2019

Reps. David Trone, Barbara Lee, Don Bacon, Susie Lee Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Repeal the Ban on Pell Grants for Incarcerated Students

Washington, DC - Today, Representative David Trone (D- MD) along with Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Susie Lee (D-NV), announced the introduction of the bipartisan Expanding Educational Opportunities for Justice-Impacted Communities Act. The new bill would repeal the ban on the receipt of Pell Grants by incarcerated individuals and the loss of federal financial aid eligibility for individuals convicted of certain drug offenses. The group will seek to pass the bill when Congress takes up the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act this fall. 

The policies this bill would reverse were both adopted during the “tough on crime” era and have severely limited access to postsecondary education among justice-impacted communities. Higher education is proven to reduce recidivism and to secure employment opportunities of justice-involved individuals. Repealing the Pell ban would save states an estimated total of $365.8 million per year as a result of reduced recidivism rates and reincarceration spending. 

“This bill unleashes potential, reduces recidivism, and creates opportunity for those impacted by the criminal justice system,” said Rep. David Trone (D-MD). “I’ve seen the impact an education has on incarcerated students first-hand -- it changes lives and improves our communities. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will help give those impacted by the criminal justice system access to a better future.”

“To expand educational opportunities, we must see education as a right that can create a path for those impacted by the criminal justice system,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). “The Expanding Educational Opportunities for Justice-Impacted Communities Act is a bipartisan bill that will expand access to Pell Grants for incarcerated students and eliminate the conviction question on FAFSA forms. This important legislation will help reduce recidivism and provide robust educational opportunities for so many who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. What’s more, this legislation is a great step towards addressing the economic and social realities that drive mass incarceration, especially in communities of color.”

“The best way to ensure someone doesn’t return to prison after being released is to help them with access to a quality education. This bill will empower these individuals to make significant changes to their lives once they are released,” said Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE). “The rate of recidivism in America is too high and I am pleased to join Congressman Trone and others in introducing and supporting this legislation, that can make a significant impact in the lives of many who strive to improve their lives.”

“Ending the Pell Grant ban for incarcerated people reaffirms that every person deserves a chance to get a good education,” said Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV). “Those impacted by the criminal justice system have very few opportunities to succeed when they reenter society, and education is the best way to change that. I’m proud to support this bipartisan bill that strengthens communities, saves states money by lowering recidivism rates, and gives people a second chance to get a quality education.”

For more information about the Expanding Educational Opportunities for Justice-Impacted Communities Act, see below:

Legislation Overview

Bill Text

Section by Section

Congressman David Trone was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2018 to serve the 6th District of Maryland, which includes all or part of Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties. Trone serves on the Education and Labor, Foreign Affairs, and Joint Economic Committees, where he is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders, including the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform, and funding for medical research.