Following federal approval, Chaminade University will launch an innovative “second chance” Pell Grant program this fall that will give Halawa Correctional Facility inmates an opportunity to earn an associate’s degree in Business Administration.
While the Pell Grant will not fully cover the cost of tuition and fees, generous donations from Atherton Family Foundation, First Hawaiian Bank and Sidney Stern Memorial Trust to the University, will help fill some of the financial gaps to make the program a reality for the students.
As part of the initiative, inmates will be eligible for federal Pell Grants in order to seek the degree. The US Department of Education invited Chaminade to submit an application for its Second Chance Pell Experiment in January 2020, which waives Pell Grant restrictions for incarcerated students.
And this spring, the federal government gave Chaminade the green light to move forward.
“We are proud to offer this new Second Chance program to incarcerated students at Halawa Correctional Facility, giving them an opportunity to build their skills so they can seek to rebuild their lives,” said Dr. Janet Davidson, Chaminade’s Vice Provost of Academic Affairs. “We cannot thank all our donors enough for their generous support of this program and are also incredibly appreciative of our strong partnership with the Hawaii Department of Public Safety.”
The program will officially launch August 23, with a cohort of 15 to 20 students.
Chaminade professors will deliver instruction in a hybrid model—with in-person classes and supplementary learning through an online platform. In order to participate, the professors are getting special training from the state so they can safely teach at the medium-security prison.
The University is offering incarcerated students a significantly reduced tuition rate; with their Pell Grant awards, they will not be responsible for any out-of-pocket costs. Meanwhile, correctional staff are evaluating prospective students for college readiness, using various reasoning assessments.
The associate’s degree itself will be 60 credits, and take about two years to complete. In addition to completing their general education coursework, the students—attending full-time—will tackle Business Administration courses that cover everything from accounting to statistics to macroeconomics. “Students will move through the program as a cohort, graduating after two years with an associate’s degree in Business Administration,” Davidson said. “We are looking forward to working with this community to help them expand their skills so they can access new opportunities.”