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Learn more about JFF
Center for Justice & Economic Advancement

Normalizing Education Resource Center


Getting Ready for FAFSA Administration

Steps for Working With Financial Aid and Corrections 


Prepared by Jenna Dreier, Director, Jobs for the Future; Rachel Pleasants McDonnell, Director, Jobs for the Future; Sheila Meiman, Prison Education Specialist at National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) and previous Director, Returning and Incarcerated Student Education, Raritan Valley Community College; Allan Wachendorfer, Program Manager, Vera Institute of Justice 

Disclaimer: This overview is specific to new Prison Education Programs (PEPs) for Award Year 2023-24 and should be used for operational planning for PEPs for this award year only. Second Chance Pell (SCP) sites should follow the alternative guidance specific to the Revised Experiment for 2023-24. There will be different documents and processes for Award Year 2024-25 following the implementation of the simplified FAFSA. More information will be provided prior to the start of that award year. Visit NASFAA's PEP Web Center to access other tools and resources on postsecondary education in prison for the financial aid community.

Leveraging the return of Pell Grants to create additional opportunities for students in correctional facilities at federally approved Prison Education Programs (PEPs) require close collaboration between the college’s prison program office staff, the correctional agency, and the college’s financial aid department. This resource details some of the initial steps in establishing these critical partnerships and getting ready to administer the FAFSA for incarcerated students as a PEP. Keep in mind that the details may vary depending on state and local context. 


Getting Ready for FAFSA Administration

Other Considerations
  • What are the relevant state aid deadlines, and how does this impact planning?  

  • Is there transparency for students about how Pell Grant funds are administered? For example, what their Pell Grant covers, what is included in billing statements, and why they will not be receiving refunds or credit balances?  

  • How can the enrollment management and financial aid process be streamlined? Can it be integrated into general college application and enrollment processes?  

  • How will you meet financial aid consumer information requirements? 

  • What process will you put in place to repackage financial aid and remove incarcerated student flags for students who are released from prison and re-enroll on campus?