It is a common misconception that those who have been incarcerated or have a felony conviction cannot continue their education or qualify for Federal Student Aid. In fact, there are many educational opportunities available at local community colleges and changes to federal laws have opened up opportunities for those with a criminal history to further their education. Gaining a GED or post-secondary education for those returning to the community after incarceration can increase the chances of employment and independence.
General Equivalency Diploma (GED)
A high school diploma or GED is a prerequisite for any post-secondary education or training. Getting a GED is easier than you may think. Get started by contacting a support agency or your local community college.
Can I Get Student Loans?
If you are on probation or parole or living in a halfway house, you may be eligible for federal student aid, including Federal Pell Grants. The Federal Interagency Reentry Council has produced a series of ReEntry Mythbusters fact sheets that focus on common misconceptions about federal laws that affect those formerly incarcerated. The Federal Student Aid page debunks myths associated with qualifying for post-secondary college funding.
In order to apply for Federal Student Aid, the applicant will need to complete an online application. This FAFSA worksheet will help the applicant prepare the necessary information needed prior to completing the online application.
There are some things to watch for that may automatically disqualify you. If you are male and did not register for Selective Service (Draft) before your 26th birthday, you may be disqualified. Check to see if you registered here. If you are not registered, you should do so if you are still under the age of 26 and over 18. If you fail to register by your 26th birthday, you should apply anyway and you will be given the opportunity to appeal because there are certain exceptions for failing to register (e.g. incarceration).
The Federal Student Aid site contains information and resources on how to prepare for post-secondary education, including the types of student aid and loans available, career and college searches, and the student aid application process.
- Funding Your Education: The Guide to Federal Student Aid (Resources)
- Other Federal Student Aid Publications
Find Public Education or Education Assistance
The following links offer information on community colleges in North Carolina, including degrees offered, class schedules, workforce continuing education opportunities, distance learning, and licensing and certification requirements for certain career paths.
- North Carolina Community Colleges
- North Carolina Community College Education Catalog
- North Carolina Community College Locations and System Offices in Your Community
The Literacy Council of Buncombe County provides specialized tutoring and resources in literacy.
NC LINKS program for young adults with previous engagement in the foster care program
Need a laptop? You may be able to obtain one free through Reconnecting Laptops for Reentry