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Can Formerly Incarcerated People Go to College?

The idea of going back to school after being released from incarceration can be intimidating. It may have been years since you set foot in a classroom or had to work with groups of people on large projects. You may be worried about how to juggle the responsibilities of getting a job, going to school, and making up for the quality time that you missed while being away from family. Don't doubt yourself! Higher Education is definitely achievable after incarceration, although it may seem a little complex. Going to school to further your education can put you in a better position for a stable career path. Formerly incarcerated people are going back to school every day, creating long-term stability for themselves and their families. Here are some helpful tips for getting into college after incarceration:

If you're concerned about the financial obligations ahead of you while attending college, don't be afraid to reach out to the staff at your desired institution. Financial aid and admissions officers can help potential students through the application and enrollment process no matter what your background says. College can be quite pricey but fortunately most eligibility limitations are removed upon release from incarceration, meaning you could still be eligible to apply for Financial Aid and certain grants to cover some of your course credits.

Depending on the school, your institution may require criminal history checks during the application process. Be honest! It’s best to be truthful on your application. Prior offenses don’t automatically disqualify you from being accepted. Be prepared for any questions the admissions counselors may ask. As a returning citizen, it will benefit you to show that you are ready and excited to continue your education. Schools like to know a students’ goals, what you're passionate about, and what you plan to do long term after earning a degree.

Many schools have different admissions criteria and guidelines. If one school rejects you, don't get discouraged! There are so many others that could still say yes. It’s important to stay open minded, optimistic, and ambitious after incarceration. Chase that dream!!!

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