Enabling Reinvention

FAQs for Potential Scholars

Do you know of any other scholarship opportunities for prisoners?
No, as far as we know the PSF is the only program specifically designed for incarcerated students. However, some scholarship opportunities may be available through your institution of study.

I was just released from prison, can the PSF help me with college tuition expenses?
Unfortunately, the PSF only provides funding for students currently behind prison walls. However, now that you are free, you can apply for and will likely receive many federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. What’s more, you now have the ability to more easily research other scholarship programs available to the general public. You can always ask your school’s financial aid staff for details.

Is there a minimum amount of time I must sentenced to?
No. However, if you have less than six months to serve or are currently at work release, for instance, you will most likely not receive funding. The college courses usually take a few months to complete, and we try to assist those who will be incarcerated long enough to complete the course.

Why do you need a copy of my court documents?
The court documents are needed to verify that you are indeed incarcerated and how long your sentence is. Further, at some point in the future the PSF will evaluate the efficacy of prisoner scholarship assistance and we will need to compare matched sets of individuals to show that education indeed lowers recidivism rates. Thus, we will compare similar individuals who have similar criminal histories. Also remember that we are requesting public information, which is freely available from the courts to all who request it; however, we do not have the time to research each and every candidate.

Will declined applications be kept on file?
Yes. The PSF keeps a hard copy of all submitted applications.

If I am not chosen for funding will the PSF review my application and award me funding later?
No. However, we encouraged you to reapply for scholarship assistance as many times as you want. Indeed, the applicant who refuses to let an initial “no” slow them down and who shows persistence is exactly the kind of applicant we like to support.

Will the PSF return my application on request, or if I am not chosen for funding?
No. Due to the volume of requests, most submitted documents will not be returned. Because application packets will not be returned, be sure only to send copies of important documents. However, the only documents that will be returned are court documents if the applicant is unable to make copies at his or her institution.

Do previous awardees enjoy priority status for future funding?
Yes. The PSF intends to provide a complete funding solution to those who maintain academic performance standards (minimum cumulative 3.5 GPA on courses taken through the PSF’s assistance). However, the ability to fund applicants in not certain and is subject to the amount of money we have available.

Do applicants who are able to pay for a portion of their education enjoy priority consideration for funding?

Maybe. Often we have trouble choosing an applicant for funding. And the decision to award funding is sometimes an economic one. Further, if an inmate is able to pay for his or her own textbooks, for instance, not only does the PSF have to spend less money on the individual, but it shows an investment on the part of the applicant. This shows how serious a student is in pursuing an education, and may tip the scales in their favor.

What is an ideal candidate?
We really like to see applicants who have a well-formulated plan for the scholarship funding. This means the candidate knows where they want to go, how much it will cost, and is able to provide as much contact information for the school as possible. Further, the applicant who can best argue about how the PSF will assist them, now and in the future, may enjoy scholarship assistance.

How much is an average award?
The amounts of the scholarships awarded ranges widely; some applicants need less than $100, while others may need over $500. However, as previously mentioned, often the decision to award a scholarship is an economic one. With a firm grasp of how expensive college tuition is these days, we would like to provide assistance no matter the cost. However, economic realities are something the PSF must face as well.

Are awards made course by course?
Yes. Typically, the PSF will only pay for one course at a time until the applicant proves that they are able to complete the course and meet academic performance standards. Once a track record has been established, the applicant will be considered a Prison Scholar and provided latitude to enroll in more than one course at a time.