Are Federal Grants Given to Convicted Felons?

Some ex-offenders that have prior felony convictions may be eligible to receive federal financial aid grant money to attend college. The STEP AHEAD career planning program suggests that ex-felons fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form to determine their eligibility for funds. Felons who were convicted while enrolled in school and receiving grant money are suspended from applying again.

According to U.S. News & World Report, there is some hope of gaining access to college grant funds after being convicted of a state or federal drug possession offense. Convictions for possession and sale of trafficked substances have specific waiting periods for financial aid eligibility. The amount of time ranges from one to two years depending on the offense. A third conviction, however, results in an indefinite suspension of eligibility.

Other types of federal grants are not awarded directly to felons. The U.S. Department of Justice provides information about government grant partnerships with faith-based organizations that aid felons. These organizations are eligible to receive funding for programs that aid prisoner re-entry into society. Ex-felons who participate in these programs benefit by receiving assistance such as job counseling, drug abuse treatment and housing assistance.

The Journal Times provides an example of this type of local program by reporting on a program in Racine, Wis., named 2nd Chance. This program received generous monetary grants to help run its programs aimed at reducing prison recidivism among ex-offenders.