What will I learn?

    A basic overview of your educational optionsWhat you need to get started in pursuing your education

Getting an education is one of the most important steps you can take in reentry if it feels right to you. Education can open up new opportunities and lead to a better career. This chapter can help you start (or continue) to plan for and reach your educational goals. It covers what programs, schools, and financial aid opportunities are available, and it takes you through the process of deciding what is right for you. The advice here is intended to be practical both for people who are currently incarcerated, as well as for people who were formerly incarcerated and have returned to the community.

A NOTE FOR READERS WHO ARE CURRENTLY INCARCERATED: Throughout this chapter, we will often suggest that you “call” the resource that you need. We understand that it might not be possible for you to make these phone calls yourself while you are incarcerated, however we offer it as general information for you, your family, and your advocates to use for your benefit.

Did you know?

Studies show that formerly incarcerated people who receive general education or vocational training are much less likely to return to prison and much more likely to find employment after their release. In fact, people who participate in correctional education programs while incarcerated have a 43 percent lower chance of returning to prison, and a 13 percent higher chance of finding employment, than people who do not do educational programs while incarcerated.[2678]

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    Allie Bidwell, Report: Prison Education Programs Could Save Money, U.S. News & World Report (Aug. 22, 2013); see also Ctr. for Cmt’y. Alt., The Use of Criminal History Records in College Admissions Reconsidered (2010) (“Post-secondary educational programs have been shown to reduce recidivism by approximately 40 percent. A research brief . . . reported on a Texas study in which participation in higher education lowered recidivism to 15 percent, 13 percent and under 1 percent for people who earned an associate’s, bachelors, and master’s degree, respectively. In contrast, the general recidivism rate hovers around 63 percent nationally. A study of recidivism rates among women showed that only 7.7 percent of those who took college courses in prison returned to prison after release, compared to 29.9 percent of those who did not participate in the college program. State-level studies in Texas, California, Alabama, and Maryland have, over the course of many years, shown significant reductions in recidivism associated with higher education in correctional settings.” (internal quotation marks omitted)).