Invitation to Participate in the Second Chance Pell Experiment Under the Experimental Sites Initiative (ESI) (EA ID: GENERAL-21-46)

Federal Student Aid
Invitation to Participate in the Second Chance Pell Experiment Under the Experimental Sites Initiative (ESI) (EA ID: GENERAL-21-46)

The Department is pleased to announce that it will consider letters of interest submitted on or after the date of this Electronic Announcement from Title IV-eligible postsecondary institutions to participate, beginning with the 2022-2023 award year, in the Second Chance Pell experiment under the Experimental Sites Initiative (ESI) authorized under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA).

The Second Chance Pell experiment was established in an August 3, 2015, Federal Register Notice ("2015 Notice"). The 2015 Notice provided that letters of interest received after October 2, 2015, may still be considered for participation, at the discretion of the Secretary. Additional institutions were invited to submit letters of interest in a May 20, 2019 Electronic Announcement. Beginning today, a third round of letters of interest will be considered for participation in the Second Chance Pell experiment. Institutions actively participating in the Second Chance Pell experiment do not need to submit an additional letter of interest to continue participation in the experiment; however, applicants that previously submitted a letter of interested, but were not accepted, may submit a new letter and be considered again.

Under the ESI, the Secretary has authority to grant waivers from certain Title IV, HEA statutory or regulatory requirements to allow a limited number of institutions to participate in experiments to test alternative methods for administering the Title IV, HEA programs. ESI experiments are designed to facilitate efforts by institutions to explore innovative practices aimed at improving student outcomes, the delivery of services, or both.

With the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, the Department of Education will further expand the ability to serve incarcerated students beyond this experiment by reinstating Pell Grant eligibility for eligible students enrolled in certain prison education programs beginning July 1, 2023. In preparation for these legislative changes, increased participation in the Second Chance Pell experiment will allow the Department to determine what will be needed for institutions to comply with the new provisions. Additional participants will also ensure continued diversity in the experiment, allowing the Department to learn more about how to effectively implement the new legislation and provide insight on how best to serve incarcerated students in the future. In particular, the Department seeks to increase geographic diversity to include institutions from states not currently represented in the experiment.

If your institution is interested in participating in the Second Chance Pell experiment beginning with the 2022-2023 award year, please review the 2015 Notice and submit a letter of interest no later than October 28, 2021. Letters of interest must be submitted as a Portable Document Format (PDF) attachment to an email message sent to The subject line of the email should read "ESI 2021-Second Chance Pell." The letter of interest should be on institutional letterhead and be signed by the institution's president, chancellor or chief financial officer. The letter must include the institution's official name and Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education Identification (OPEID) number, as well as a mailing address, email address, and telephone number of a contact person at the institution.

As stated in the 2015 Notice, please include in the letter a listing of the academic programs that your institution is considering for inclusion in this experiment and, for each of those programs, an estimate of the number of participating students. We understand that institutions' academic program listings and the actual number of students who participate may vary from the information submitted in the letter.

Submitting a letter of interest does not commit the institution to participate in an experiment, nor does it commit the Department to approving an institution's request to participate. From the institutions that submit letters of interest, the Secretary will select a limited number of institutions based on criteria described in the 2015 Notice and with an interest in increasing geographic diversity.

The Department encourages institutions to submit letters of interest that propose to include programs focused on preparing students for employment in a sector or occupation that currently has or is projected to have a number of open positions locally or nationally. We are also interested in programs that would allow students to continue their training or academic program upon release, including on the campus of the institution. The Department will finalize the specific evaluation and reporting requirements before the third cohort begins participating in the experiment.

If you have any questions about the application process or the Second Chance Pell experiment, please send an email to