How To Go To College As a Felon

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Did you know education is directly linked to a reduction of re-incarceration? 

A 2013 RAND Corporation study, found education for incarcerated students reduced their odds of returning to prison by 43 percent. 

And while it's a proven method in reducing recidivism, it can also become an expensive one. Many felons are also under the wrong impression that school's won't accept them due to their criminal record. 

In 2016, 61 institutions of higher learning, such as New York University and Boston University, signed the Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge. This initiative, launched by the Barack Obama administration, allows universities to commit to fairly admitting students with a criminal background.


Accessing Affordable College

Getting a college education is expensive--- At least that's what most of the nation believes. And while it's partially true, there are creative ways around the high costs. 

To learn more about going to college without going broke, download our free resource guide.


Now, let's say you've haven't read our free guide so you're not familiar with how to get up to the first 3 years of college for free. In that case we recommend taking the following steps to ensure an affordable education.


1) Fill out your Fafsa. Seriously, this is a top priority line item. Without it, you won't qualify for federal aid.

"But Felons Get Hired, I have a felony on my record. Will I qualify for for federal aid?"

Good question. This is how it works. 

If you are convicted of a crime PRIOR to attending school and receiving aid, you are still eligible. 

If you are convicted of a drug-related offense while attending school and using federal aid, your account will be suspended but you can gain eligibility early by successfully completing an approved drug program or by passing two unannounced drug tests by an approved drug rehabilitation program. 

2) Register for Community College.  

There are many challenges that accompany living life with a prior conviction. Not the least of which is finding a job. To search the largest database of felon friendly employers on the net click the link.​​​​

While it's a struggle to find gainful employment, there is a silver lining. 

The silver lining being you likely will qualify for the entire Pell Grant. If so, you should be able to complete community college for free (as well as pocket a bit of change for living expenses). 

3) Apply for Scholarships & Grants

The federal government isn't the only entity willing to help pay for your education. 

Be sure to check the following sources 


  • Your college
  • The county you live in
  • The state you live in
  • check
    Churches, reentry programs, and other non-profits 
  • check
    Websites like Scholarships.com

Felon Friendly Degree's

Once you've applied to a college and been accepted, now it's time to focus on the type of degree you should pursue. 

Depending on your conviction some jobs may be out of bounds for you. For example, if you were convicted of money laundering, getting a degree in finance would likely net you zero jobs. 

"Can I become a nurse if I'm convicted of a felony?"

There is a lot that goes into this answer. In short, yes you can depending on where you live. In California for instance, being a felon does not automatically disqualify you from working as a nurse. Under Title 16, California Code of Regulations, section 1444, a conviction is “substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a registered nurse”. 

For more information about becoming a nurse in California, click here

"What are the best felon friendly careers?"

The best career is the one your good at. While this may sound cliché, it's true. There are many careers available to you. Ranging from Congressman to Computer Developer. Below are a few careers you may not have thought of. 


  • Offshore Drilling
  • Truck Driver
  • Construction Foreman
  • Congressman
  • App Developer
  • Software Developer

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