Inver Hills Participating in Second Chance Pell

College offering degree program at Minnesota Correctional Facility–Shakopee

The U.S. Department of Education recently announced Inver Hills Community College is included in the expansion of the Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative to provide need-based Pell grants to people in state and federal prisons.

Currently, there are 63 colleges that teach in 26 states participating in Second Chance Pell; this second cohort of 67 new schools will bring the total to 130 colleges in 42 states and the District of Columbia.

In 2015, three other Minnesota State colleges were included in the first round of Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites: Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Pine Technical and Community College and South Central College. Inver Hills was the only Minnesota institution accepted into the newest round.

Inver Hills Community College has been offering courses and the Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree to five Minnesota Correctional Facilities (MCFs) for more than a decade:

The vast majority of incarcerated people will one day return home, and providing access to postsecondary education in prison means that these individuals are far less likely to recidivate and are better equipped to play productive and positive roles within their communities. Access to postsecondary education also improves prison safety for both incarcerated people and corrections employees alike.

“Inver Hills will be offering Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) and Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees in Individualized Professional Studies to people incarcerated at Minnesota Correctional Facility–Shakopee,” said Brenda Lyseng, the college’s Title III project director. “We are looking forward to delivering degree program opportunities in Second Chance Pell.”

The Vera Institute of Justice has been providing technical assistance to the participating colleges and corrections departments since the initiative’s inception, working to ensure that the programs provide quality higher education in prison and post-release.

“This expansion of Second Chance Pell will improve lives and strengthen communities,” said Nick Turner, president and director of the Vera Institute of Justice. “The expansion is also a testament to the fact that broader access to college in prison is a strategy that works—to improve safety and expand opportunity in our country.”

“I’ve had the pleasure of visiting several Second Chance Pell institutions and have seen firsthand the transformative impact this experiment has on the lives of individuals who are incarcerated,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “By expanding this experiment, we are providing a meaningful opportunity for more students to set themselves up for future success in the workforce. The stories I’ve heard from students and institutions engaged in the experiment are very encouraging, and we look forward to seeing how this expansion will help even more students achieve a better future.”

Minnesota Correctional Facility–Shakopee • Klein McCarthy Architects
See a full list of Second Chance Pell second-cohort sites by visiting the U.S. ED website:

New Institutions Invited to Participate in the Second Chance Pell (SCP) Experiment 

More about Second Chance Pell…

Inver Hills Community College is excited to be part of a new cohort of Second Chance Pell sites. A majority of incarcerated people at Minnesota Correctional Facility–Shakopee are Pell-eligible, but they’ve been banned from using Pell grants to access postsecondary education since 1994.

Evidence shows that quality postsecondary education changes lives for the better. It’s a transformative experience that improves safety both within prisons and across communities, and strengthens families.

Inver Hills believes the college’s participation in Second Chance Pell will improve opportunities for incarcerated people and lead to safer prisons and safer communities. Here’s why:

Improves Safety in Prisons

Minnesota Correctional Facility–Shakopee • Minnesota Department of Corrections
  • We know that access to postsecondary education improves prison safety for incarcerated people and corrections employees alike.
  • Individuals who are serving long sentences are often seen as mentors to other incarcerated people, and when they participate in postsecondary education, it sets an example for others and a positive tone for the prison overall.
    • As a result, we see lower instances of violence in prisons with postsecondary education programs. And these programs ensure people are equipped with the skills they need to succeed once they return home.
  • When people who have access to postsecondary education do return home, the data shows they are far less likely to recidivate. In fact, research shows that people who participate in postsecondary education programs are 48 percent less likely to recidivate than those who don’t.

Strengthens Communities & Families

  • Postsecondary education is never about just one person; it creates a ripple effect.
  • People who can access postsecondary education in prison describe the experience as transformative. That’s because these learning experiences help people regain a sense of their humanity, offer a sense of hope for the future, and set them up to return home with fresh perspectives and goals for how they can contribute to their community.
  • Postsecondary education strengthens families, too: Children of incarcerated students who see their parents accessing coursework are more likely to pursue their own postsecondary education.

Remains a Sound Investment in Our Future

  • This is an uncertain time for all Americans, and there’s no doubt that there’s a significant burden on policymakers right now.
  • The Second Chance Pell Initiative remains an important and sound investment in our future, because it improves safety and sparks opportunity.
  • Access to postsecondary education creates safer prisons and safer communities.
  • Safer prisons and safer communities translate directly into lower criminal justice expenditures for local and state budgets. That’s funding that can and should be directed elsewhere.
  • And the opportunity that education offers to break painful cycles of poverty and involvement in the criminal justice system present an additional value-add to communities, particularly at this critical moment.
  • As we navigate the months ahead and determine what comes next, both safety and opportunity will be central to the sound shepherding of resources and the strengthening of communities and families.
  • Expanding access to postsecondary education in prison is a strategy that works and as such it’s one of the many investments we must continue driving forward.

More about Individualized Professional Studies (IPS)…

The Individualized Professional Studies (IPS) degree programs were developed in consultation with leadership from corporate, nonprofit, and educational organizations. These leaders helped shape the programs and are in agreement that these type of programs are needed in all facets of the world of work. Their direction validated the programs’ credibility.

IPS features:

  • Save time and money by earning credit for prior learning (CPL)
  • Faster degree completion
  • Maximum use of previously earned credits
  • Seamless transferability to four year college of choice
  • Educational degree planning with personal attention and support
  • Be with other adult learners like yourself
  • Average age of the students in this program is 41
  • Military/veterans—learn how to utilize military college credits in your degree plan
  • Become a member of Adult Success through Accelerated Programs (ASAP)

Reasons to choose an IPS degree

  • Job Validation: Have your focus area of your plan mimic what you truly do in your job/career.
  • Promotion: If you cannot move forward without an achieved degree, this is for you.
  • Career Attainment: Use your current skills in combination with new courses that lead you to a change in your career.
  • Personal Reasons: Did you always want to complete your degree, but life got in the way?
    • Do you want to be a role model for your children to prove how important education is at any age?
    • Are you inspired to accomplish a life goal?
    • This program is for you.
  • Transferability: Build your degree plan to prepare for transfer.

IPS degrees

Associate of Science (A.S.) in Individualized Professional Studies – 60 credits

This degree program was designed for you, the adult learner. If you have five or more years of work/life experience past high school and are working toward career advancement, this degree is for you. The A.S. in IPS provides you with the opportunity to develop a specific focus in an area that is related to your world of work.

In addition, the degree option allows you to use previously earned credits along with the ability to earn college credit for the knowledge and skills you have gained through your work and life experiences. These options allow you, the adult learner, to earn your degree in a more cost effective and expedient manner.

You can use previously earned college credits and earn college credit for the knowledge and skills you’ve gained through your work and life experiences. Credit for prior learning (CPL) allows you to save time and money earning your degree.

Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Individualized Professional Studies – 60 credits

The A.A.S. in IPS is a personalized, cost-effective, accelerated degree that is designed for the adult learner to obtain a career goal that cannot be met through the completion of any other program offered at the college. Using a structured process with faculty and advisors, you will create a college-approved emphasis in an area that is related to your field of work.

The A.A.S. in IPS allows you to build upon your vocational credits, technical credits and/or work experience. If you are looking to go right into the workforce, the A.A.S. in IPS is an ideal degree choice. Note: Students intending to transfer to a four-year school to earn a bachelor’s degree should pursue the A.S. in Individualized Professional Studies.

Learn more about Second Chance Pell at Inver Hills by contacting:

Brenda Lyseng
Title III Project Director

Learn more about Individualized Professional Studies (IPS) at Inver Hills by contacting:

College Center 270

Admissions Team
College Center

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