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DeVos expands Second Chance Pell experiment, invites 67 schools to join program

DeVos expands Second Chance Pell experiment, invites 67 schools to join program
© Greg Nash

Education Secretary Betsy DeVosBetsy DeVosAzar in exit letter to Trump says Capitol riot could 'tarnish' legacy READ: Departure letter from HHS Secretary Azar to Trump ICE acting director resigns weeks after assuming post MORE on Friday expanded the Second Chance Pell experiment, inviting nearly 70 schools to join the program that gives incarcerated individuals need-based federal Pell Grants so they can enroll in postsecondary programs offered by colleges and universities.

"I've had the pleasure of visiting several Second Chance Pell institutions and have seen firsthand the transformative impact this experiment has on the lives of individuals who are incarcerated," DeVos said in a statement. "By expanding this experiment, we are providing a meaningful opportunity for more students to set themselves up for future success in the workforce."

Created in 2015, over 4,000 credentials — postsecondary certificates, associate degrees and bachelor's degrees — have been conferred to Second Chance Pell students in the last three years, according to a study by the Vera Institute of Justice.

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The Education Department says that around 5,000 students received Second Chance Pell Grants for the 2016-17 award year, with that number increasing to 6,750 students for the 2017-18 award year.

DeVos explained that 180 schools reached out with interest to join the program, and 67 of them were sent invites to join.

"These institutions were determined to be the most qualified; their selection ensures institutional, programmatic, and geographic diversity among new participants," the department's statement reads. "Nearly two-thirds of the schools invited to participate today are two-year institutions, one-third are minority-serving institutions, and all are either public institutions or private nonprofits."

With the expansion, there are now 130 schools participating in the program across 42 states and Washington, D.C.

A study from the Rand Corporation, a nonprofit global think tank, found that people who take part in educational programs while incarcerated are 43 percent less likely to return to prison compared to those who don't participate.