February 6, 2024
Story by Maggie Harris
Photo by Joe Vinduska
This past October, an ABC crew from Nightline visited Ellsworth Correction Facility (ECF) to speak with Barton Community College students to learn about their educational journey and highlight the need for Pell Grants for residents.
In 1994, Congress removed Pell Grant access to residents. These benefits were restored to qualified residents in 2020 when the FAFSA Simplification Act was passed as a part of the Second Chance Pell program.
With a focus on the Second Chance Pell program, the ABC crew attended ECF’s annual learning celebration and met with Barton students to hear about their experiences and the impact Barton and the Pell program have made on them. Resident Simon Garcia graduated with his associate degree in October. He spoke of the satisfaction Barton and the grant opportunities have allowed him to enjoy.
“I went from one class a semester to five classes, being a full-time student in a prison,” he said. “Which was awesome because I feel accomplished. I felt like I was finally doing something legit. You know, I’m really doing this.”
ABC aired the results of those interviews last night on Nightline. The entire segment, “Inmates Get a Second Chance at Academic Dreams,” can be viewed at abcnews.go.com/Nightline.