Obama to Go Around Congress to Give Pell Grants to Prisoners

Would lift ban signed by Bill Clinton


The Obama administration is expected to go around Congress to provide Pell grants to federal prisoners, administratively overriding legislation passed by Democrats and signed by former President Bill Clinton.

The move, expected Friday, would likely cost taxpayers significantly more than the $34 million the federal government gave to inmates via college grants in 1993. Since then the prison population has doubled to roughly 1.6 million inmates.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Obama administration plans to restore federal funding for prison inmates to take college courses, a potentially controversial move that comes amid a broader push to overhaul the criminal justice system.

The plan, set to be unveiled Friday by the secretary of education and the attorney general, would allow potentially thousands of inmates in the U.S. to gain access to Pell grants, the main form of federal aid for low-income college students. The grants cover up to $5,775 a year in tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses.

The report indicated that the administration officials would bypass Congress by using a "provision of the Higher Education Act that gives the Education Department the authority to temporarily waive rules."