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Tuition Assistance Programs (TAP) are vital to creating equitable spaces in higher education, yet these programs still aren’t accessible to incarcerated students. During the “tough on crime” era, lawmakers banned incarcerated students from accessing need-based assistance programs like Pell nationwide and TAP in New York. But a movement in New York is working to reverse that legislation for incarcerated New Yorkers.

Equitable access to higher education is critical for justice-involved students in and out of corrections facilities. By 2027, 70% of all jobs will require post-secondary education beyond high school; this coupled with disproportionately high unemployment rates, means formerly incarcerated people re-enter society with a number of barriers to success. Incarcerated women are particularly at risk since they are the fastest-growing segment of the incarceration population, and are often offered even fewer opportunities for higher education behind bars. 

On October 26, 2021, Generation Progress Director of Advocacy Edwith Theogene spoke on the “TAP Restoration Is Women’s Equity” panel hosted by College and Community Fellowship about why TAP restoration is a women’s issue, and how denying access to incarcerated students deepens the divide between men and women.


  • Serena Martin-Liguori, Executive Director, New Hour for Women and Children-Long Island
  • Anisah Sabur, #HALTsolitary Campaign
  • Nicole D. Porter, Senior Director of Advocacy, The Sentencing Project
  • Edwith Theogene, Director of Advocacy, Generation Progress

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