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Higher Education Prison Program

Western Nevada College Reinstates Higher Education in Prison Program

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Students can continue their education after their release

Western Nevada College (WNC) has reinstated the Higher Education in Prison (HEP) Program at Warm Springs and Northern Nevada Correctional Centers since its dormant in 2008 due to the Great Recession and the elimination of Pell grant eligibility for incarcerated people. HEP program provides access to higher education and workforce education for the underserved population of incarcerated men.

The move has taken in order to help reduce recidivism, increase prosocial behaviors, break the cycle of poverty, and provide hope for a second chance in life. The Latest reinstated in 2018 for NNCC and now as of Spring 2020, serves more than 140 students, including WSCC students.

The uniqueness

WNC’s Higher Education in Prison program is unique in the state because it serves a larger number of students with a wider variety of sentence lengths including who are able to pursue Associate degrees as well as certificates of achievement and/or industry skills certifications.

The program is now unofficially been called a model for the state and was recently awarded the 2020 Social Justice Award at the inaugural Celebrating Social Work Leaders event hosted by the UNR School of Social Work.

Offered Programs

WNC offers an Associate of General Studies degree and both correctional campuses and an Associate of Applied Science, Welding degree at NNCC. WNC also offers stackable credentials within both degree programs. All programs offered are equal in rigor and staffing to any other program the college offers. All programs can be completed while the students are still incarcerated. Students can also continue their education with WNC or the other NSHE institutions after their release.

Future Plans

  • Automotive Service Excellence Certifications in collaboration with a local automotive group interested in employing reentry citizens.
  • Construction and other Industry Skills Certifications.
  • Dual Enrollment with Carson Adult High School.
  • Pending: Approval as Second Chance Pell Experimental Site.


  • State: WNC received state funding starting in FY20 to support the expansion of the HEP program. (Student eligibility based on parole or expiration date)
  • Private Donors and Correctional Center Fundraisers: The WNC Foundation manages the funds from private donors and fundraisers that help support the program. (Student eligibility is open, funds are limited)
  • Self-Pay/Family Pay: WNC accepts self-pay/family-pay to allow students to take additional classes, or to allow students who have not qualified for other funds to take classes.

Future plans: To achieve sustainability, WNC’s Higher Education in Prison program staff will seek grants for which to apply and hold fundraisers specifically for the program.



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