College students in prison are ineligible for state-funded financial aid in most states. This is because state policymakers adopted policies that explicitly ban incarcerated students from receiving aid. How and why did state policymakers do this? This study explores this question through qualitative case studies of two states where incarcerated students lost financial aid eligibility: Georgia and Indiana. The history of these policy adoption events was traced from legislative records and interviews with policymakers. This study is among the first to apply a new conceptual model of state higher education policy adoption; thus, it offers new insights into the policy adoption process and the strengths of the model. Results show the factors that influenced the adoption of new financial aid eligibility policies were represented in the conceptual model, including state economics, funding for higher education, state agency influence, political ideology, gubernatorial strength, and electoral conditions.
The above excerpt was originally published in The Journal of Higher Education.
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