Can a Felon Qualify for a Pell Grant?

Felons looking to receive a formal education may find themselves wondering how they will fund it. Pell grants are a great way to fund college and are utilized by thousands of students each year. In this article, we will touch on what a Pell Grant is, how they work, and who is able to receive them.

What is a Pell Grant?

In simple terms, a Pell Grant is a grant from the United States Government that is given to students with financial need to help them obtain a college degree or a vocational certificate. Pell Grants do not need to be paid back like student loans do. Pell Grants range in value, some grants will only cover a fraction of school, while others may leave students with left over money. Pell Grants are very valuable, Pell Grants are free money.

Pell Grants can be applied to community colleges, four-year universities, or vocational schools. The United States Government’s motivation in giving out Pell Grants is to get a stronger, more educated workforce, so as long as the Pell Grant is used to further this goal, then the grant is being used in a positive way.

In 2017-2018, the maximum dollar amount a Pell Grant could award someone was $5,920.00. This number may seem relatively small compared to the cost of college, which in the same year span was $34,740.00, but keep in mind that many universities offer scholarships, fellowships, or lower tuition to students who display financial need. Later in the article we will discuss in detail how felons can fund their education by displaying financial need.

How Pell Grants Work.

When a prospective student begins to look at different schools, they may feel crushed as soon as they see the price tag; they may think that they are unable to attend that school because of financial troubles. Pell Grants are designed to help prospective students attend the school they choose through giving them free money to do so. Pell Grants are grants awarded to students who display financial need. Unlike student loans, Pell Grants do not need to be paid back.

The first step in receiving a Pell Grant is committing to a field of study and a college/university. Nothing can be done until you know what you want to study and where you want to study it. The next step is to fill out the necessary Financial Aid forms. These forms can be found on Create an account and provide all of the requested information. Do not forget to add in the college or university you plan on attending. Pell Grants are sent directly to the university so if that section is left blank, then the Pell Grant will be inactive.

Once your profile is complete, it will be reviewed by officials within the government to determine if you should be issued a Pell Grant. If you are not awarded a Pell Grant, you can always try and dispute it by providing additional information that helps display your financial need. You will be notified if you received a Pell Grant through the applicant portal on the website. Pell Grants renew every semester as long as you continue to display a financial need for them

Are Felons Eligible to Receive a Pell Grant?

Felons face many restrictions when it comes to receiving benefits from the federal government. For the most part, felons are unable to receive any form of government assistance if they have a felony conviction on their record. Because of this law, that means felons are unable to receive Pell Grants. There may be unique cases in which a felon is able to obtain a Pell Grant or help from the government to pay for school, but these cases are very rare and only happen if the felon has displayed a change of character.

Felons are not the only ones who can be disqualified from receiving government assistance, anyone with a misdemeanor and/or drug offense on their record will also be disqualified from receiving government assistance. The rules and requirements to obtain assistance from the government state that anyone with a felony, misdemeanor, or drug offense may be ruled ineligible from receiving government benefits or assistance to further their education. This includes government loans, grants, scholarships and more.

Felons are able to still attend college or vocational schools, however. Just because the United States Government will not provide them aid does not mean felons are unable to attend higher education institutions. Universities and vocational schools are aware that felons are unable to receive aid from the government, which is why many schools across the country do their best to support felons by offering their own form of aid. This aid primarily comes through the use of scholarships but may extend to a reduced tuition and/or a free education. Every school is different, so consult an admissions counselor before applying to see if the school is supportive in any way towards felons.

Do not be discouraged by the cost of obtaining a degree or certificate, there are many ways felons can pay for school. In the next section some of these methods will be covered in detail.

How Felons Can Pay for School.

If a felon is unable to afford to go to school, there are many ways the felon can fund his or her education without the help of the federal government. Applying for scholarships and private grants is a popular option many felons choose to do. Some universities across the United States have specific scholarships just for felons, so consider checking those out. Felons may choose to take out private loans to fund their education or get a full-time job and only attend school part-time.

With the rise of technology, online colleges and classes have exploded in popularity. Many felons will choose to enroll in an online college due to the flexibility offered. It means that felons are able to go to work during the day and do their schoolwork in the evening. For the most part, it will take longer to get your degree if you go this route, but it is an affordable option to take into consideration.

Consider looking into job training programs. Some companies will pay for you to go to school if you sign a contract stating that you will work for the company for an allotted amount of time after graduation. This is mostly seen in trade professions such as welding or H/VAC, but some larger companies have been known to pursue this route.

Another popular option is having the military pay for your education. For example, the United States Army may offer to pay for your schooling so long as you enlist for a certain amount of time. This is a great way to get a college degree for free and getting a guaranteed job. The Army has been known to do this with doctors and lawyers, as well as supply chain personnel. For more information on this, talk to your nearest military recruiter.


Can universities not admit someone because of their felony?

While the reason for declining an applicant varies, having a felony on your record is never the primary reason. Felons are able to attend college just like everyone else. Some universities even encourage felons to apply through waiving their application fee and/or offering special scholarships for felons.

Felons are able to attend college.

Can a felon receive a loan to go to college?

Yes. In a broad sense, felons are allowed to receive loans to pursue a degree. The loans cannot come from the federal government since the government does not provide any aid to felons, but that does not stop felons from obtaining a loan.

There are many private loan agencies in the United States that felons can utilize to get money to go to school. The private loan agencies typically do have higher interest rates than the government does, but by using these companies, felons can get the money they need to go back to school.

It is important to note that when applying for a loan, the loan officer will run a background check on the applicant and discover their credit score, loan history, and other financial information. If the applicant is marked as a “high risk” applicant, then they will most likely receive a higher interest rate.

Can a felon own their own business?

Yes. Felons are able to own their own business and form their own LLC. Many felons, upon their release, decide to jump right into entrepreneurship instead of going to college. Felons are able to receive business loans, which make the prospect of starting a business even more attractive for a felon. There are many successful business owners that have a felony on their record, so do not get discouraged!

Thank You for reading! Do you think felons should be able to receive Pell Grants? Is it right that felons are excluded from receiving financial assistance from the government? Let us know your thoughts by writing a comment down below!




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