Monday, April 14, 2008

If Convicted Sex Offenders Can Get Federal Aid, Then Why Can't You?

I get a lot of email from people who ask about grant programs and financial aid for going back to school. They tell me that finding information about financial aid for school is too hard to find.

Then you're going to have to explain why there was a recent article about how convicted sex offenders were getting federal financial to take online courses? And to make this story even more newsworthy it turns out that a lot of them spent the money on things like clothing and music! One of Iowa's most dangerous sex offenders has received thousands of dollars in federal aid to take college courses through the mail! (Prison inmates are ineligible for this kind of funding. Students convicted of certain drug offenses are also ineligible.) One of the "loopholes" for applying for this kind of federal financial aid is that the applicant doesn't have to disclose their living arrangements on their application forms - which means that the sex offenders didn't have to disclose where they were "living". In the state of Iowa more than 10 offenders in a Cherokee Mental Health Institute received grants. More than half of them dropped their courses after receiving the grant money.

Recent information about such offenders receiving this grant money came as a result of a newspaper report about 54 offenders at one Florida center getting $200,000 in grants in one year.

Of course there are arguments on both sides about this recent finding. On the one hand some think that being able to take educational courses will help some sex offenders adjust better in society and others think that it is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

But as someone who does grant research I find the fact that those mentioned in the article were able to find out about such information about grants quite intriguing when other people have told me that they couldn't find any information about grants and / or financial assistance for going back to school. Now you even know that there is financial aid available even if you want to take online courses!

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