Scholarships available for inmates to earn degrees, re-enter society
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Nearly half of all prisoners in Tennessee return to prison within three years of being released.
Some people in Nashville are working to turn offenders into hard working citizens by helping them earn a degree. Nashville State Community College claim they have kept more than 81 former inmates from returning to prison through their education program.
The Doochin Family Trust is now partnering with the college and Nashville State Community College Foundation to give $20,000 to former inmates each year. Each recipient can get up to about $2,600 to help pay for books, supplies, and tuition.
Dr. Julie Doochin, board president and director of the Doochin Family Trust says about 40% of former inmates taking classes, do not graduate because they don’t have the money. She’s hoping this scholarship money will bridge this gap as people are released from prison and get back into society.
“Because there’s so many people who are enrolled in Nashville State behind bars and what would happen is people were getting out and they didn’t have the time to get Pell [grants] put in place or maybe they did get federal funding for the tuition but then they didn’t have a job yet so they didn’t have time to get funds to pay for text books or school supplies,” Dr. Doochin said. “Once you are released, you are trying to get a job, you are trying to get your driver’s license back, housing so this was a way to take that stress off of them.”
For years, Nashville State Community College has been working with inmates and formerly incarcerated people to help them earn their degree. The college is hoping this extra money will help more people graduate with an associates or technical degree.
“We have a partnership with the Tennessee Higher Education Committee where incarcerated individuals can pursue college programming while behind bars,” said Cecily Stone, executive director of the Nashville State Community College Foundation.
The U.S. Department of Justice reports that inmates who go through an education program are more likely to get a job and 43% less likely commit another crime and return to prison.
NSCC is now accepting scholarship applications for people who are about to be released from prison or have been recently released.
To apply for a scholarship, visit here.
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