Prison Incarceration Costs More than Harvard University Tuition

Prison Incarceration Costs More than Harvard University Tuition
Susan Dutca-Lovell

In the next year, it will cost $75,560 to incarcerate 130,000 California inmates. That is $2,000 more than in costs to attend one year at Harvard University.

Part of the budget increase is for prison guard and medical providers' salaries and benefits. The per-inmate cost has doubled since 2005, even though overcrowding has dropped by roughly one-quarter; it is expected that there will be 11,500 fewer inmates in the next four years, as voters recently approved earlier releases. Prison college prep programs, college education programs, and financial aid programs for prisoners have emerged in an effort to make inmates more marketable and reduce their chances of reincarceration.

Last year, Former President Obama initiated a small pilot program called the Second Chance Pell Program which provides federal Pell Grants to prisoners so that they can take college courses while in prison. Otherwise, incarcerated individuals are unable to receive a Federal Pell grant or federal student loans. College Bound Dorchester's scholarship program for at-risk youth, titled The Boston Uncornered program, works with gang members, the "core influencers in neighborhoods" and encourages them to get off the streets and pursue a college education. The College Bound Dorchester College Scholarship Fund offers each student free college scholarship worth $2,000.

Many orphan and foster care youth end up in prison. To combat this issue, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania offers a program to assist foster care youth in going to college.The Anchor Program serves as a tuition-free college-prep program for foster youth in select counties of Pennsylvania. Students have the chance to reside on Bloomsburg University's campus and receive meals, housing, activities, and college program materials at no cost. The Anchor Program provides students with the academic, leadership and college readiness skills necessary for post-secondary success; as well as mentorship in researching colleges and navigating financial aid and free college scholarships. For more free college scholarship opportunities, check out these scholarships for foster youth, scholarships for orphans, and scholarships for adopted students.

Although prisoners have limited eligibility and options for federal student aid, certain inmates may qualify for a Federal Pell grant if they are in an institution other than a federal or state institution. Upon release, inmates may have their eligibility limitations lifted and are encouraged to apply for college financial aid prior to their release so that they can receive their financial aid in time to start school.

We make it simple and match you to college scholarships you qualify for.