AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Amarillo College announced it is receiving a $100,000 grant from Ascendium Education Group’s “Ready for Pell” initiative to enhance educational opportunities and be positioned when Pell Grant eligibility is restored for people in prison.

AC said “Ready for Pell” is designed to assist institutions that provide postsecondary education in prisons. Since 1994, people who are incarcerated have been prohibited from receiving Pell Grants, but that will change nationally in July of 2023.

“These are important funds because once Pell eligibility is restored, our enrollment among the incarcerated is certain to increase dramatically,” said David Hall, associate dean of technical education at AC. “This money will enable us to hire a coordinator and provide necessary services such as academic advising and financial aid.

Currently, AC said it offers its diesel technology curriculum to prisoners at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Clements Unit in Amarillo. AC said it also plans to offer HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) classes at the Clements Unit next fall.

Hall said low enrollment among prisoners is due to their tuition and fees being paid out of pocket or through private loans.

“The addition of Pell should instantly change our numbers,” Hall said, “and that’s good because it will allow us to offer educational pathways in high-demand occupations – here and across the state.