Pell Grant Experiment Has Offered “Second Chance” to 8,800 Incarcerated Students

By The New England Council

DC Shuttle …

Ed Dept Meeting on Pell Grants for Prisoners. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos gave opening remarks at an Education Department roundtable where officials got an update on an ongoing experiment offering Pell Grants to prisoners. The roundtable addressed a GAO report detailing the experimental program, which was started under the Obama administration and has been extended by the Trump administration for another year. During the pilot’s first two years, schools awarded more than $35 million in Pell Grants to about 8,800 incarcerated students, according to the report.

Committee Approves Department’s Higher Education Changes. A U.S. Education Department panel reached agreement on DeVos’s efforts to scale back and simplify federal higher education regulations and make significant changes to the accreditation process for institutions. The panel achieved consensus on all packages of regulations the Trump administration is seeking to change. The proposals would affect federal rules governing college accreditation, state approval of online colleges, religious institutions, competency-based education and TEACH grants, among other issues. The panel did not include some if its earlier, more controversial proposals in the final language, such as a plan to break up some regional accreditors. Final language was expected to be made public April 8 with a 60-day comment period ensuing.

House Holds Hearing on Higher Education Act. The House Education and Labor Committee’s Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee held a hearing on how to hold colleges accountable to students and taxpayers. It was the second of five planned hearings that Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the committee’s ranking member, say will guide their effort to comprehensively update the Higher Education Act. Both the Democrat and Republican chairs of the subcommittee agreed that something should be done through Congress to address the problems with the current accreditation process. “The [Education] Department has not only abandoned its critical role in college accountability but has actively worked to undermine the integrity of the triad through negotiated rulemaking. The Department is proposing to reduce … its own footprint while providing accreditors with greater flexibility. Ultimately, these proposed changes would allow low-quality schools to flourish and leave accreditors with little to no responsibility for accrediting bad actors,” said subcommittee Chair Susan Davis (D-CA).

We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of April 8, 2019. For more information, please visit:




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