Through a long and vibrant partnership between the Department of Corrections (DOC), the State Board of Community & Technical Colleges (SBCTC), Washington’s community and technical colleges, and private partnerships. Washington has built an educational system that provides opportunities for incarcerated adults to earn a high school equivalency, learn high-wage and high-demand workforce skills, and obtain postsecondary certificates and degrees designed to meet the individual’s needs and enhance pathways for post-release employment and/or education.
Federal & State Financial Aid
The DOC currently has three active Second Chance Pell Grant Experimental Sites: (Cedar Creek Corrections Center and Washington Corrections Center through Centralia College, and Coyote Ridge Corrections Center through Walla Walla Community).
Congress recently established eligibility for Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals enrolled in qualifying prison education programs, effective July 1, 2023. In October 2022, the U.S. Department of Education announced final rules to implement access to Pell Grants for incarcerated students in prison education programs. Learn more here.
The U.S. Department of Education has also announced that incarcerated individuals are eligible for Federal Student Aid's "Fresh Start" initiative and Federal Student Loan Debt Relief. To learn more, please see attached frequently asked questions (pdf) regarding Federal Financial Aid eligibility.
Request for Information — Postsecondary Education Services
The DOC has reviewed the rules and implementation requirements for Federal and State financial aid for correctional education programs and is disseminating a Request for Information (RFI) (pdf) to Institutes of Higher Education in Washington State to determine interest in providing postsecondary education to incarcerated individuals utilizing financial aid.
The RFI will be utilized to assist the DOC in its decision-making process as it seeks to expand and enhance educational opportunities for those we serve. This is the first step in a multi-step process that will include further discussions around a proposed postsecondary education program, accreditation, and approval by the Department of Education. A stakeholder feedback process will also be developed to provide guidance on determining that postsecondary education programs that utilize financial aid are operating in the best interest of students.
View the RFI here (pdf). Institution responses for first consideration are due March 31, 2023.
View the Department of Corrections Provided Answers to Questions here (pdf).
Washington State Prison Education Program Information Session
Representatives from the Department of Corrections, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the Vera Institute of Justice, and the Washington Student Achievement Council will be holding a Washington State Prison Education Program (PEP) information session.
WA State Prison Education Program Information Session
This virtual meeting will provide an overview of the U.S. Department of Education’s Prison Education Program application and approval process, including the role of the oversight entity and accreditor, for WA State Institutions of Higher Education interested in providing postsecondary education utilizing Title IV Pell Grant funds and other financial aid assistance (e.g., Washington College Grant) in carceral settings.
Date: Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Time: 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM PST
Location: Virtual Meeting (via Zoom)
Register to Attend WA State's Prison Education Program Information Session
Every correctional facility offers adult basic education programs adult basic education programs (pdf), which provide a foundational education in reading, writing, math, and English Language Acquisition. Also offered are a variety of pre-college preparation courses, trade pre-apprenticeship programs, vocational certificates, and two- or four-year degrees.
Adult Basic Education
- High School+ Completion
- General Educational Development (GED)
- English Language Acquisition
- Business Administration, Associate of Applied Science
- Business Management, Associate of Applied Science
- Direct Transfer, Associate of Arts
- Human Services, Associate of Applied Science
- HVAC Technology, Associate of Applied Science
- Supervisory Management, Associate of Applied Science
- Welding, Associate of Applied Science
- Bachelor of Applied Science, Business Management
- Bachelor of Arts, Liberal Studies
Federal, State, and Private Education Partners
- Accounting and Bookkeeping
- Autobody Collision and Repair
- Automotive Mechanics Technology
- Baking and Pastry Arts
- Business Administration and Management
- Computer Numerical Controlled Manufacturing (CNC)
- Computer Programming/Web Development
- Diesel Mechanics
- Digital Media: Web and Multimedia
- Drywall, Roofing and Siding
- Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management
- HVAC Technology
- Machinist/CNC Technology
- Pre-Apprenticeships/Construction Trades
- Technical Design and Computer Aided Design (CAD) Drafting and Design
Below are Department of Corrections (DOC) policies that apply to the Education Program.
- DOC 500.000 Education and Vocational Programs in Prison (pdf)
- DOC 500.100 Correspondence Education in Prisons (pdf)
Laws & Regulations
Below are the federal laws, state laws (RCWs) and regulations (WACs) that apply to and/or relate to the Educations Program.
Revised Code of Washington (RCW)
- RCW 28A.193.020 Solicitation for education provider—Selection of provider—Operation of program by educational service district.
- RCW 72.09.100 Inmate work program—Classes of work programs—Participation—Benefits.
- RCW 72.09.130 Incentive system for participation in education and work programs—Rules—Dissemination.
- RCW 72.09.460 Incarcerated individual participation in education and work programs—Postsecondary degree education opportunities—Legislative intent—Priorities—Rules—Payment of costs.
- RCW 72.09.480 Inmate funds subject to deductions—Definitions—Exceptions—Child support collection actions.
Below are Department of Corrections (DOC) publications that apply to the Education Program.
- Education Fact Sheet (pdf) 400-GU026
- Education Programs by Location (pdf) 500-GU018
- Prisons Education Programs Winter 2023 (pdf) 500-CA001
- Education Navigators Brochure (pdf) 500-BR007
- Fabians Fund
- Freedom Education Project Puget Sound
- Pell Grant Frequently Asked Questions (pdf)
- Prison Scholar Fund
- State Board of Community and Technical Colleges
- Sustainability in Prisons Project
- United States Department of Education
- Vera Institute of Justice
- Washington State Institute of Public Policy
- Washington Student Achievement Council