MARCH 18, 2008
Dozens of sexual predators nationwide are benefiting from a federal aid program for low-income college students and they often use the money for living expenses already being covered by taxpayers or to buy stereos and television sets.
Although the offenders are still confined by the courts to treatment centers they qualify for Pell Grants, the federal financial aid program created to give the poor access to a college education. The need-based grants are issued by the U.S. Department of Education based on a standard formula established by Congress.
Prison inmates are not eligible for the federal grant money but incredibly sexual predators qualify once they are transferred from prison to treatment centers. It turns out that the government annually gives violent sex offenders hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to pay for college and other education-related expenses.
The taxpayer-funded institutions that house the offenders report that the financial aid is often used to buy clothes, stereos and music compact discs long after they drop out of college. Pell grant dollars can legally be spent on education-related expenses, but the money is supposed to be repaid when the student withdraws from college.
Not surprisingly, the government doesn’t keep track of the students or the cash once the check is cut. This has allowed some of the nation’s most dangerous criminals to freely exploit valuable tax dollars. In one Florida center alone, 54 offenders got $200,000 in Pell Grants in a year.
One of Iowa’s most dangerous sex offenders, a 48-year-old rapist, has received thousands of Pell Grant dollars even though he is still locked up in a state-run center for fear he will attack again. The federal government sends his checks through the mail to the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston Wisconsin. Others at the center also get Pell Grants.
At an Iowa institute at least 14 offenders have received Pell Grants in recent years and in California numerous predators living at a state hospital receive Pell Grants. At least one lawmaker finds this outrageous and is leading an effort to stop the practice.
Florida Republican Congressman Ric Keller calls it the most insane waste of taxpayer money and a national embarrassment to use taxpayer dollars for pedophiles and rapists to take college courses while hardworking young people from lower-class families are flipping hamburgers to pay for college.
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