The first college program for inmates began in 1953 and the government's federal crime bill in the early 1990s allowed inmates access to in-prison college courses and the Pell Grant. By 1995, the government cut prison funding, forcing 350 prison education programs to close within the year. Correspondence programs are distance-learning courses that allow a student to participate in academic study through the mail and open the opportunity for inmates to continue learning despite federal cuts.

Christian Bible College Seminary

The Christian Bible College Seminary offers self-paced, accredited correspondence programs in Christian counseling and board-certified therapist from the associate to Ph.D level. Course materials consist of a Bible, textbooks, study guides, cassettes, and video tapes sent by mail and charged in addition to the tuition. Course work involves book reports, essays and tests (true and false, fill-in and multiple choice) returned to the school by mail. Each degree is 60 credit hours long, and classes are typically five credits each. Tuition ranges from $1,500 for an associate's degree to $2,200 for a doctorate as indicated at the time of publication. There is a 20 percent discount for full payment for program, and the school offers financial assistance. Students must have a GED or high school diploma to enroll.

Christian Bible College Seminary 10106 East Truman Road Independence, MO 64052 816-254-3720 cbs-degree.com

Ohio University

The Ohio University College Program for the Incarcerated began in 1974 and offers an accredited paralegal certificate, associate degrees in arts, science, applied business or individualized studies and a bachelor's degree in specialized studies. Previous college credit earned at a regionally-accredited institution can apply toward the degree program. There are soft-cover textbooks available for inmates whose prisons prohibit hardcover books. Students can mail in their course work, and a staff member at the inmate's institution must supervise tests. Tuition is $340 per credit hour as indicated at the time of publication. Ohio University College Program for the Incarcerated Haning Hall 222 Athens, OH 45701 800-444-2910 outreach.ohio.edu

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill offers self-paced university correspondence program to inmates through the school's Friday Center for Continuing Education. The center subsidizes the tuition for the first nine months, and an additional four months for $75 total, as indicated at the time of publication. There are 70 different classes to choose from including English, mathematics, science, history and foreign language, to name a few. To qualify, inmates must be in the North Carolina prison system and meet the academic and sentence criteria set forth by the school. Some minimum-security facilities offer on-campus study release.

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Associate Director for Correctional Education 100 Friday Center Drive, Campus Box 1020 Chapel Hill, NC 27599 919-962-3000 fridaycenter.unc.edu