INDIANAPOLIS - Governor Eric Holcomb and eleven other governors are calling on Congress to make changes to a 25-year-old federal law that prevents people behind bars from obtaining federal funding to pursue higher education.

The law blocks incarcerated students from receiving Pell Grants -- the primary form of need-based federal student aid.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is currently reviewing legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, including the federal Pell Grant program.  

Holcomb says he supports efforts to provide flexibility in the Pell grant program, saying it would support Indiana’s Next Level Jobs initiative.

In a letter to the committee leadership, Holcomb states that reforming the law “will go a long way in helping Indiana meet its goal for at least 60 percent of Hoosiers to have education and training beyond high school by 2025 — a goal directly aligned to future workforce need.”

The governor says expanding the reach of federal Pell programs will help support education for incarcerated Hoosiers, adult learners and high school students to help them obtain a quality credential beyond a high school diploma.

Holcomb says the proposed federal changes recognize that states need more flexibility to target support to their unique populations, meet current workforce needs, and prepare for a rapidly changing future workforce and economy.