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Old 05-14-2004, 08:50 PM
Nikkel425 Nikkel425 is offline
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Default Education: Correspondence Program and Financial Aid

Does anyone know how the correspondence courses through a college and getting financial aid work? My husband said that he was told he was not able to use financial aid to do the correspondence work and he would have to pay out of pocket. So, I am wondering... can he apply for a student loan?

He was told the classes for this Fall are full and he can't get in... but, if he could, he could use his financial aid for that. It doesn't make much sense to me.

Does anyone have any insight on this aspect of the education program?
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Old 05-15-2004, 04:46 AM
mom mom is offline
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I copied this information here from two separate posts from Nettie (very smart woman). It may repeat itself in parts but maybe some of this will help.

Incarcerated Persons Attending College, Technical Schools

Here is how My Son has been able to take regular college courses while incarcerated. Check with your Prison, Adult Education office to make sure this policy is okay... But, here's what I and my son went about doing it...

1. My son has prior college education, but this doesn't matter at all. So long as the incarcerated person have their High School Diploma or GED they can go to college... Incarceration in a prison doesn't matter...

2. I went online to all the State Local Community Colleges (which are cheaper than Universities and 4 year colleges). Plus, if my son is to prove himself, he must do so at the Junior college level and then move forward. I also received information from Ohio University which has a different program set up for Incarcerated persons only but is more costly... My son took a couple of course there until we found out about the Community Colleges...
Okay, I went online, found all the state which my son is incarcerated at and is a residence with... Look up all community colleges. I then looked up each college, phoned them, and asked them did they have a "Distance Education" Program...and if they have correspondence courses other than the one's online, because my son has no access to a computer. I made it clear, he is incarcerated and wishes to rehabiliate himself through education. Distance Education has nothing to do with incarceration, it is a regular program for anyone and every one whom do not have time to sit in a class room... That's all. We need to stop thinking and looking for programs for incarcerated persons for you will fall on death door unless you plan to pay Ohio University... Okay, once the school, which almost all the Community Colleges do have Distance Education Program and most still offer book correspondence courses (non-internet)... Also check to see if they offer the curriculum your child wish to take e.g. business, art, law and etc...

3. Next, find at least 4 colleges that offer the curriculum and Distance Education, request an application sent to you or to your child (at prison). Fill out the application and mail it back. On the application, you should have your phone number and address on the application to receive correspondence timely back. The reason you want to apply for so many community colleges, is one may have this course and the other have the other when you need it... It doesn't matter if you are taking courses from 4 colleges at different times, your credit travel with you always. In fact with my son, now that everything is so computerize, all the community colleges are under one umbrella, so when I look up his information online, all 4 colleges are listed and I have to select which college I am looking for... Once you receive the acceptance letters, you make copies. Send copy to your child.

4. The most important part, is for you to write in behalf of your incarcerated love one a letter to the Warden of the Prison. It is out of Respect that you get his approval, without it, no school. The letter should be simple. Here is an example of mines for my son:

I, ____________________, mother and legal administrator for inmate ____________DOC#__________, residing at your prison, request on his behalf, that he be allowed to take Distance Education correspondence college courses (non-internet), during (e.g. Fall/2004, Spring/2005). Enclosed are copies of all the Community Colleges that our love one was accepted to. He/she has wish to begin their learnings with _______________Community College. Their decided curriculum/course of study will be _____________________. Inmate ______________wish to take the below listed courses: 1._____________(name and course number)
2._____________(name and course number)

We, the family, applaud and support inmate __________________ initiative and desire towards rehabiliation, through education. We believe with both the support of family and support from your institution, avoidance of recidivism shall be accomplished.

Your response to inmate _______________ request to take non-internet, distance educational, correspondence courses with the ____________Community College shall be most appreciated.

Feel free to contact me at (111) 123-4567 (telephone and fax)


Your Name
Mother/Legal Administrator
Your Mailing Address (if it isn't in the beginning of the letter)

5. Send this information and letter to the Warden's Office. I sent mines through Certified Return Receipt Mail and I called to get the Warden's faxed number and faxed a copy to his office.

6. I immediately received a return phone call from the Warden's office, his secretary at first whom gave me the number of the Warden's assistance whom handles situations and requests for the Warden. This person called me right away and asked me a few additional questions and informed me that, my son would have to pay for his courses that I could not go to the college or make payment for him... But, that I could mail the money to my son, but he must responsibly make out the payment through money order to the college for tuition, books and materials. She simply wanted to make me aware of the rules and regulatiions. She was very professional. She then submitted it to the Warden and less than a week, I received a faxed and mail approval letter (copies) from the Warden. The originial to my son, copies sent to the prison property, mail room, to his counselor and to the Educational department.

7. The next step was to contact the prison Educational Department for Adults, to inform them and follow up on the Warden's decision. You see in order to make this work, someone has to administer the test to the incarcerated person. They call this person the "Proctor". The Educational Department assigned someone in their office to be the "Proctor" to administer all tests and send them to the teacher at the College. It very simple to do. All the information regarding my son's courses were given to the Proctor, which was already stated in the letter to the Warden and in the Warden's approval letter... The name of the Proctor and the DCE (Department of Corrections Educational Department) address, phone number was emailed and faxed to the teacher at the college for that course. The teacher then mailed the entire coursework and sybullus to the prison proctor long before school started... For example my son course started in Jan,2004. my letter to the Warden went out Oct, 2003 after his acceptance... The warden approved it in Oct, 2003, The Proctor was notified and the School notified of who the proctor was, by Nov. 2003 my son's work was already at the prison school waiting for Jan. 2004 to start and my son, hadn't even paid for his courses yet. Once everyone knows who, what, where and how, it is down hill from that...

7. Now you have the Warden's approval, have been assigned a Proctor, The College is aware of who the Proctor will be... Now comes to registering for the courses and making payment. Simply forward the monies to your son account and allow him to do the responsible thing of making payment. Now about the cost. This is what I have found in my son's case... Community College is much cheaper than a 4 year college and Ohio University program... My son took 2 courses this semester (6 credits). Each community college course was $136 totalling $272 for 6 credits... Not bad, when for the same courses at the 4 year is almost triple the cost and Ohio University is $500 or more... His books cost for both courses $112. Total bill for everything $384.
Not monies that everyone have to put out, but if you can pull this money together from many sources then it is worth it.

8. About Financial Aid. Every state is different. But, I called FAFSA the federal financial aid office. This is what I was told. No incarcerated person can receive a Student Loan. No Drug Related Inmate can receive any financial aid, however, financial aid can be received through the state level, providing the state allow for it. Meaning this Federal monies are sent to the state and it is up to your individual state to allow for financial aid for incarcerated person whom are convicted of drug related offenses. Therefore, you must apply for FAFSA and see what happens. Fill out the application, if your loveone is not incarcerated for drug related offenses. Let the college make the determination and if you received financial aid, you are Blessed. Financial aid can run as high as $2,400 a year which you do not pay back. This isn't a loan... I advise you to go your local college and pick up a FAFSA financial aid package ASAP whether you apply for college or not. The application takes time to process and you want this back ASAP...
If your state allows for financial aid, then you will receive your monies back during the year...but most likely you will have to pay in advance the first semester and then when you get the financial aid you can put it away and have it ready for the next semester to pay...

9. This information doesn't only apply to college, it applies to technical schools just as well. It isn't about being incarcerated... It doesn't matter what your residence is. It's about the person wanting to advance their education and going back to school... This is the way you deal with the situation, with the school, with the prison.

10. Now when it came time for my son to receive his books in January, there was a problem. It was delayed badly. When he went to send the money order for the books, inmate accounting office claim they didn't get the warden's approval memo. My son called me and told me they denied his book money order. I called the inmate accounting office, spoke with them and faxed them my copy of the Warden's letter... Then, they called to tell me that Property didn't have their copy of the letter and they must sign off on the book request. I had to deal with that office... They gave me a hard time, but I stayed professional and prevailed. After about a month they finally got it together... I believe they simply took the "hater" approach... One had the nerve to ask my son, "Why are you trying to go to college when you have 30 years on your back to do"??? and he was the one holding up the books... But, we got it through... I also contacted his teachers through email and explained why he hadn't handed in a test and they offered him an incomplete if he isn't finished by May... They extended his time to Nov, 2004... God is so Good! When you do right, it all works out...

10. Today, my son is studying hard and he sounds so Good. I visited with him last week, which is a 9-10 hour drive... He looks Marvelous... And School has been a Blessing... There is much more normalcy in his life. His Cell-mate has asked that I represent him towards getting an approval for college with the Warden, for he has no family to write a letter for him and be his ears, eyes and legs. I have no problem with helping anyone whom wishes to better themselves. For through their rehabilation and success, I can walk the street feeling a little safer...

11. Education isn't for everyone. It doesn't solve all the criminal behavior and activities... But, we must face it. What will happen when they come out and can't find a job due to their criminal record, their non-experience, their non-education.... Who will hire them. So what's the purpose. Also, theirs the self gratification of achieving something while incarcerated. Nothing but time on their hands. The mind is a terrible thing to waste. Too many talented people are incarcerated. I am amazed at some of the artist works my son has purchased from inmates to send to me and the family as gifts... My son himself is an artist, he also writes songs... So, if we can bring out the Best in our own... Each one taking responsibility for their own...and if you can afford the time, love, support of a stranger or anothers child that is incarcerated... Go for it... Again, I don't believe in babying such ill behavior... I believe there are some career criminals that prison will be the only way, but there are far too many that are not... All birds of a feather, do not flock together... I aim to prove the nah sayers "Wrong"...

12. I don't know if I answered or covered each and every question, but, feel free to contact me anytime and I will walk you through anything regarding this educational approach... I am not expert. I only can go on my experience and I am willing to share it with anyone and everyone.

13. I must admit how pleasantly surprised I was with the Warden, with the College, especially my son two teachers... The teachers have even telephoned me personally. For the most part the prison has been really supportive of my son's plight. The only nahers are the CO's which is to be expected. But, I give everyone a thumbs up for deceny and professionalism.

14. This is something I suggest that everyone with incarcerated loveone...do... From day one when my son was arrested and since then, 2years later... I have typed a letter making me his legal administrator and representative. I mailed it to him and have him to sign it, notarize it and mail it back to me. I've sent him a copy of it. The letter allows for me to represent him medically, administratively and legally while he is incarcerated with the Department of Corrections. I also have a joint bank account with him to allow for monies he may receive that he doesn't want placed in prison account. For some state have certain laws which they become the guardian over your incarcerated persons financial belongs. The point is, Life goes on and you must live it as such. I've had to use the legal administrator notarization several times. Once even in court for a minor situation, the other to obtain medical records. And once, I had to deposit a check made out to him, and he couldn't endorse it, because the prison said when it came in the mail, they would automatically put it in his account... and he didn't want that (he owed me the money "Smile")... but with a joint account, I didn't need to sign it (that's fraud)...All I had to do was write on the back "for deposit only" and I could draw on it and send him what he needed. Case closed.

15. Lastly, the Warden has asked that a letter be submitted each semester to state what courses my son is taking, for there are some courses they don't wish them to take...like how to build a bomb "Smile"... and it requires a semester to semester approval... I found out the two biggest courses most inmates take are Business Administration and Para-Legal...

Second post.

Here is what I did for my son.

1. First, find out from the Prison your loveone is housed their policy regarding acquiring a degree through Distant Education/Distant Learning. They will tell you whether internet, video conferencing are allowed. If not that is fine. Some prison allow just the books and syllabus received by the inmate and a Proctor (DCE's educational department assigned instructor whom will administer the test for the College and mail them back). The prison may allow for the Proctor to receive the video tapes to administer them to your incarcerated love one. The two person's at the Prison you need to speak with is the Warden's office for policy and DCE (Department of Corrections Education) which is located on the premise of the Prison. They will guide you about the policies and the Proctor.

2. Once you know the policies of the Prison you can move forward. Now Universities (4 year Colleges are far more expensive to start off unless your loveone has previous college of 63 credits (AA, AS). Now if they don't, I suggest you begin at the Community College Level and after they have completed all the courses required, then transfer to the University (4 year). It is a lot less expensive and in the state of Virginia where my son is housed, we found more Community College willing to work with us and having the course he needed.

3. You need to look at the curriculm your loveone wishes to take. For example, Business Administration, Management, Law are much simplier courses to find, because most of the classes are book material courses, not needing labs, internet and outside materials not allowed by the prison. It also depends on the length of time your loveone will be incarcerated to decide the curriculm (study choice). For example, if they only have 4 years left, then the field of choice is much greater and wider. Reason being they can start now and finish upon release. Now with my son, he has a 30 year prison bid, if he doesn't win his appeals. But, God is Good and On Time!!! but still, his choices are limited, he wants to finish while incarcerated. Not start now and say he can't finish due to the prison won't allow the materials, which could mean waiting another 20 some years for his release... when he could have chosen something else to his likeing and then went on for his Masters degree or even PHD... So he chose Business Administration at a Community College, even though he has prior college credits, which were obtained at a University (4 year college) and all of his credits were transferred to the Community College and towards his Business curriculm and Business was not his curriculm at the university... The credits/courses having nothing to do with Business became his electives.

4. Go to Yahoo and request the following "State of Texas Community Colleges". You should find a listing of all the colleges. go to each college and look for Distant Education, or Distant Learning Programs. Inquiry on line by email to that department or call them directly. Tell them simply, that your loveone is currently incarcerated and wishes to acquire a college eduction with that state. Explain to them what is not allowed by the prison. Usually they know already... Ask them do they offer distant learning/educational courses that are not internet. There response is usually some but not a lot. This is fine. Then go to a few more colleges. What we did, we found 5 community colleges that offered some distant learning courses that you don't need a computer.

5. From there, we applied to each college. I did the application and faxed them to the school ASAP... We faxed to 5 schools and none charged us a fee. I used our home address on the application. Because unless the Warden has given your loveone permission to receive information from the college he may not get it... So to avoid that, we used his original home address... My address. All 5 schools accepted my son and sent us a confirmation letter.

6. I took all 5 letters, typed a cover letter. Addressed it to the Warden of the Prison, listing all 5 colleges where in the near future my son will be taking courses from and whom accepted him. Towards my son's rehabiliation, I requested that he be allowed to take Business Administration courses at all 5 listed colleges through the Distant Learning/Education Department.

7. The warden sent me a copy of the written approval sent to my son directly. He approved all 5 colleges then. However, he made note that it was a semester to semester approval and that a list of courses must be submitted each semester for approval and at which college.

8. Now you are wondering about the 5 colleges. Community College come under one umbrella. You can take courses at many colleges under one umbrella "Community College System"... Each Community College in Virginia states that my son must complete 16 credits at their college. For example... Last semester one college offered History and Sociology there. My son took the two courses equalling 6 credits. Now next semester he will look for 10 credits to finish his responsibility to the school, now if they don't offer any book courses for him, he can go to another Community College on his list of 5 and take them there. Between those 5 colleges, which change courses each year, he will be able to finish up his degree. They only ask that he give them at least 16 credits. He may not even use the 5, he may do it in 2 or 3. Where ever the last credits are taken at will be the school issuing the degree. From there, he will then move on back to a University.

9. Universities work about the same. But they are such a large institution and if you are new to this, then you can get lost. At least with a smaller institution like Community College the experience works for when your loveone goes there. Plus, it is so much cheaper to attend Community College, get the same credits and then move forward... Here in Virginia, the in state community college credit is $156 (3credits) which isn't bad. Now Ohio has a good program where you can do it all there, without using multiple colleges...but it cost a little more...At Ohio 6-8 credits cost $885, all the way to 18-20 courses at Ohio University is $2,200. If you can afford it, then I say Ohio would be the Best Choice. Less Work to do. Ohio University College Program has a program called Ohio University College for the Incarcerated opposed to the Community Colleges and other University, they are designed just for incarcerated person, they are Independent Home Study Courses or now called Distant Education/Learning, which can be used by incarcerated persons and non-incarcerated person, such as me or yourself. So please don't get the two confused.
I also understand that Texas A&M University have a good Independent Home Study Course prepared for Incarcerated Person.

10. Once you have gotten accepted at the colleges you want and have the approval by the Warden. When registration start, call the Distant Education/Learning Department have them send you and your loveone a list of all that semester courses. You both look them over. They usually will annotate which one is internet or not. Like, with my son, his History was both internet and not... Of course he chose the not...
Also note, if a course may require you to look at a tape and the prison doesn't allow it. And the tape is only a small part of the course. You can write the teacher at the school that is giving that course and inform them that your loveone is incarcerated and won't be allowed to use the tape. If the tape isn't that important, they will say okay or they will give him/her another assignment in place. I have found that all of the teachers at the colleges that my son has attended have been simply the Best. They are professionals and could care less that your loveone is incarcerated. They are about acquiring and education. I receive one to one emails continuously from my son's teachers. They have called me long distance. They have initiated calls with the Proctor at the prison. They are very cooperative. I keep it professional and business like. Never discussing my son's crime or sentence...only his need to acquire his degree.

11. It might all seem like a lot. It isn't. After the first semester, it's much easier. Now, I will warn you about the books. My son had a very hard time receiving his books from property. They claim that they didn't receive the Warden's approval memo. So, I faxed them a copy. Make sure that when your love one register for his courses he sent Property a copy of the List and the Warden's approval letter. My understanding is the Warden approves the school, but property must approve the books. Certain books are not allowed... I think they are talking about books like "How to make a gun" "Smile" stupid things like that. Also, to avoid what we had to go through, inmates accounts. because you have to send the money to the your loveone accounts for college and they pay their own tuition from their accounts. You need to make sure a copy of the Warden's approval for school letter is faxed to them, for they won't allow the payment to the school without it. Make a lot of copies of the Warden's Approval Letter. Keep in contact with DCE and the Proctor. Get everyone Fax number, you will need it. But, once the ball get's rolling then it runs really smooth. I understand if your child is transfer to another prison, it usually runs smooth for all this is in their records...

12. I hope this has been of some assistance. I will check Texas for you and get back to you in a private email of the list of schools I found.

13.. Also, the state laws vary regarding financial aid. The only true thing about financial aid in every state is "If you are convicted, incarcerated for "drug" related crimes, you cannot recieve for Federal aid, grants and loans. Remember "drug" offenses. If yours is not, the apply for everything and let the state and school make the determinations. You never know and you have nothing to lose!
Also for drug offenses/crime, if you attend a drug rehab, or pass drug testing for one year you can receive federal aid, grants and loans upon release from prison. Or if you have been released from prison and have not further drug related crimes, for 2 years, then you can receive financial aid, grants and loans. So, there are many parollee out there that can go to college and receive federal grants, aid and loans. Call the federal FAFSA. Or go online tod FAFSA.com

Hope some of this helped.
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Old 05-15-2004, 11:38 AM
Katya Katya is offline
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You might want to telephone the IDOC Division of Education Services in Indianapolis and ask. The telephone number is 317 233 3103. They also have a website that gives email addresses for several officials there. I spoke to someone who suggested an inmate might qualify for the Higher Education Grant, but I have not yet investigated exactly what this is. Also, this is an expensive option, but the Indiana University General Studies Program offers an entire AA and BA by correspondence, and I am told they have inmates in all of the facilities that do these courses. Let´s keep sharing information!
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Old 05-18-2004, 03:41 PM
Nikkel425 Nikkel425 is offline
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Thanks ladies... I sure appreciate the information. I will inform you of the outcome.
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