By JILLIAN BERMAN REPORTER 
Up to 12,000 incarcerated individuals will have access to government grants to take classes behind bars, starting as early as this summer, the Obama administration announced Friday.

Sixty-seven colleges and universities, including Rutgers, the University of Maine at Augusta and multiple branches of the City University of New York, will be participating in the Second Chance Pell program, according to Department of Education officials. The initiative is a pilot program announced last year to test the outcomes of providing Pell grants — the free money the government provides for low and moderate income students to attend college — to students to pay for classes while incarcerated.

Prisoners must be eligible for release within five years to qualify for the grants.

“We all agree that crime must have consequences, but the men and women who have done their time and paid their debt deserve the opportunity to break with the past,” John King, the Secretary of Education, said on a conference call with reporters.

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