12 Ways to Get Free Money for EX Felons


Free money for ex felons is a growing initiative in today’s society, aiming to aid rehabilitation and successful reentry by providing financial support.

Providing financial aid for essentials like housing, education, and skills training, these initiatives help ex-felons rebuild their lives, reducing recidivism and aiding successful reintegration.

In this post, we will explore detailed information about several free money assistance programs for ex felons, their eligibility criteria, and how to apply.

Let’s get started…

List of Programs Offering Free Money for Ex Felons

According to various sources, including the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics and the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA), more than 600,000+ individuals are released from state and federal prisons each year in the United States.

Regrettably, many of these individuals face challenges when finding employment or adjusting to society after their release.

But as you are reading this post, you don’t have to worry. Below is the list of free money assistance programs for ex-felons.

free money for ex felons

1) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

The TANF program, funded by the federal government, offers cash assistance to needy families, including ex-felons.

Benefits vary by state but generally include money for food, housing, home supplies, and utilities.

Eligibility for TANF varies by state, but in general, ex-felons may be eligible for benefits if they meet the following criteria:

  • They have a child under the age of 18.
  • They are not currently incarcerated.
  • Also, They have not been convicted of a drug-related felony within the past 5 years.

Some states may impose additional restrictions on ex-felons’ eligibility for TANF, such as requiring them to complete drug treatment or job training programs.

However, most states do allow ex-felons to receive TANF benefits if they meet the basic eligibility requirements.

You can apply for TANF benefits at your local Department of Human Services office.

2) Pell Grants

Pell Grants are federal funds given to students in financial need to enhance their access to post-secondary education.

For ex-felons, Pell Grants provide a substantial opportunity to pursue higher education and gain valuable skills that can increase their employability.

The grants can be used to cover tuition fees, books, and other educational expenses at qualifying institutions.

The maximum Pell Grant award for the 2022-2023 academic year was set at $6,495.

However, the exact amount an individual can receive depends on factors such as financial need, the cost of attendance, and enrollment status (full-time or part-time).

Most ex-felons qualify for Pell Grants. Some restrictions apply to those with drug convictions, but these can often be removed upon successful completion of a drug rehabilitation program or passing two random drug tests.

You can apply for a Pell Grant by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

3) Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) does not offer free money to ex-felons. However, it provides various services and supports that can help ex-felons find and keep jobs.

These services include:

  • Job training:¬†They run training programs to help ex-felons learn new skills and improve their job prospects.
  • Job placement: WIOA also funds job placement services that can help ex-felons find jobs that match their skills and interests.
  • Support services: WIOA also provides support services that can help ex-felons overcome barriers to employment, such as child care, transportation, and housing.

In some cases, ex-felons may be eligible for needs-related payments through WIOA. These payments are designed to help ex-felons cover the costs of participating in WIOA-funded services, such as transportation, child care, and housing.

The amount of needs-related payments that an ex-felon can receive varies depending on the state and the individual’s circumstances.

If you are an ex-felon who is interested in learning more about WIOA, you should contact your local workforce development office.

4) Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans

The SBA doesn’t give free money to ex-felons, but it does offer low interest loans to help them start or grow businesses. These loans must be repaid with interest.

The amount of money that an ex-felon can borrow from the SBA depends on the type of loan program that they apply for.

The SBA offers a variety of loan programs, including:

  • 7(a) Loans: These loans are the most common type of SBA loan. They can be used for starting a new business, expanding an existing business, or buying equipment.
  • Microloans: These loans are smaller than 7(a) loans and are designed to help small businesses borrow up to $50,000.
  • Express Loans: These loans are designed to be processed quickly and easily. They are a good option for businesses that need money quickly.

The SBA doesn’t specifically restrict ex-felons from applying for loans. However, an applicant’s criminal history is considered. Ex-felons with clean records and evidence of rehabilitation have higher chances of loan approval.

If you’re an ex-felon interested in an SBA loan, reach out to your local SBA office. They can help check your eligibility and guide you through the application process.

5) Federal Bonding Program

The Federal Bonding Program provides no-cost fidelity bonds for ex-felons and other hard-to-place job applicants, acting as a job placement tool.

These bonds serve as an insurance policy for the employer, protecting them against potential employee dishonesty, theft, or fraud.

Here’s how it helps ex-felons:

  1. Employment Opportunities: The program encourages employers to hire ex-felons by reducing potential risk, thus opening up more job opportunities.
  2. No Cost: The bond covers up to $5,000 for the first six months of employment at no cost to the employee or employer.
  3. Increased Trust: The bonds increase employer confidence in hiring at-risk individuals, as they are protected against losses due to the employee’s actions.

While this isn’t ‘free money’, it provides financial security and assistance to ex-felons seeking employment.

6) Prison Entrepreneurship Program

The Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) does not provide free money to ex-felons. However, it offers various services and supports that can help ex-felons start or grow businesses.

These services include:

  • Business training: PEP offers a course on how to write a business plan and where to find funding to start a small business.
  • Mentorship: PEP matches ex-felons with mentors who can provide guidance and support as they start or grow their businesses.
  • Networking: PEP provides opportunities for ex-felons to network with other entrepreneurs and business leaders.

PEP also offers a $500 eSchool Completion Bonus to ex-felons who start a new business after completing the PEP program.

However, this is not free money. The ex-felon must start a new business and meet the program’s eligibility requirements in order to receive the bonus.

If you are an ex-felon who is interested in starting or growing a business, you should contact your local PEP office to learn more about the program and the available services.

7) Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits

SSI provides benefits based on financial needs to elderly, blind, or disabled individuals. If an ex-felon qualifies due to age or disability and meets the income and resource limits, they can receive SSI benefits.

Ex-felons must be blind or meet the below criteria to be eligible to receive SSI or SSDI (disability insurance) assistance –

  • Unable to do the work you did in the past due to your disability.
  • Unable to adopt other works due to physical impairments.
  • Your disability must be life-threatening or expected to last for a year.

For SSI recipients, payments stop when the person is imprisoned for a month and terminate when incarcerated for a year or more.

Benefits need to restart as soon as possible after release to help cover living expenses, aiding in a successful transition back into the community.

Remember, these programs do not provide ‘free money’, but rather, they offer financial support to those who meet specific eligibility requirements.

Please refer to official SSA resources for the most accurate and current information.

8) The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, provides eligible individuals and families with funds to purchase food.

It’s not exactly ‘free money’, but it does offer financial assistance for nutritional needs.

As for ex-felons, their eligibility for SNAP benefits can depend on their state of residence and the nature of their conviction.

Some states have lifted the federal ban that prevented felons with drug-related convictions from receiving SNAP benefits, while others still uphold it.

In certain cases, even in states where the ban exists, ex-felons may receive SNAP benefits if they meet specific criteria, such as participating in drug or alcohol treatment programs.

Checking with local SNAP offices or official resources for the most accurate and current information regarding SNAP eligibility for ex-felons is recommended.

9) General Assistance (GA)

The General Assistance (GA) Program is a safety net program that provides monthly financial aid to individuals who do not qualify for other public benefits. This can include people with a criminal record or those who have committed felonies.

Those approved for GA receive monthly cash assistance that can be used for living expenses such as rent, food, and other necessities.

The Georgia Cash Assistance Program provides each eligible person with a cash assistance payment of up to $350. This amount may vary if you are enrolled in multiple eligible programs.

However, the availability and criteria of GA programs can vary by state or county. Therefore, it’s important for individuals to check with their local Department of Social Services or equivalent agency for specific information.

10) Local Churches that Help with Free Money for Felons

Some local churches do offer free money to ex-felons. However, it is important to note that this is not always the case. The availability of financial assistance from churches varies depending on the church and the individual’s circumstances.

Several local churches and religious organizations offer financial aid to ex-felons as part of their assistance programs.

Here are a few:

  1. Episcopal Church: This church has locations around the country and offers grant programs that can help felons.
  2. Catholic Charities: They provide free food, meals, crisis help, housing, employment, job fairs, education, emergency assistance, and other aid to those in need, including ex-felons.

However, reaching out directly to these organizations or your local church is recommended to understand what assistance is available in your area.

11) The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army does provide various assistance programs for ex-felons, though it should be noted that this doesn’t typically involve direct cash handouts.

Here’s a brief outline of their offerings:

  1. Homeless Shelters and Disaster Relief: The Salvation Army’s hotel vouchers and shelters offer temporary housing assistance for those in need including ex-felons.
  2. Life Skills Training: Programs are available to help individuals develop skills needed for self-sufficiency.
  3. Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation: The Salvation Army runs Adult Rehabilitation Centers offering residential work-therapy programs.
  4. Pathway Forward Program: This initiative provides transitional housing and services for ex-offenders referred by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
  5. Emergency Assistance: The Salvation Army assists with rent and bills for people in need. They sometimes offer emergency loans as well.
  6. The 49-9 Project – Northeast Ohio Division: This program encourages employers to hire ex-felons who might have difficulty finding a job. The employer could receive up to $2,400.

While these programs provide significant aid, they don’t offer ‘free money.’ Instead, they equip ex-felons with resources and opportunities for successful societal reintegration.

Contact your local Salvation Army branch or visit their official website for the most current and accurate information.

12) Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a method of raising funds by collecting small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the internet.

It’s a tool that can be used by anyone, including ex-felons, to raise money for a variety of purposes.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Platform Selection: The individual selects a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or GoFundMe. These platforms are accessible and user-friendly, making it easy for anyone to set up a campaign.
  2. Campaign Creation: They then create a campaign detailing their story, financial needs, and what the funds will be used for. This could be anything from starting a business, furthering education, covering living expenses, or other personal needs.
  3. Promotion: The individual promotes their campaign through social media, email, and other communication channels to reach as many potential donors as possible.
  4. Donations: Interested individuals can contribute to the campaign, generally in exchange for some kind of reward or simply to support the cause.
  5. Funds Disbursement: Once the campaign ends, the platform disburses the collected funds to the individual, often after deducting a small fee.

It’s important to note that successful crowdfunding requires a compelling story, a strong network of potential donors, and effective marketing.

Also, while crowdfunding can provide substantial financial support, it’s not ‘free money’ in the traditional sense – it requires effort, planning, and sometimes offering rewards to donors.

General Eligibility Requirements to Receive Financial Assistance for Ex-Felons

Ex-felons seeking financial assistance or free cash can access several options, including grants, loans, and social programs. However, these often come with certain eligibility requirements. Here are some general requirements:

  1. Need-Based: Many programs require proof of financial need. This could be low income, unemployment, or other indicators of financial hardship.
  2. Legal Status: Some programs require the individual to have fully served their sentence and to not be on parole or probation.
  3. Employability: Certain programs, especially those offering job training or employment assistance, may require the individual to be capable of working.
  4. Residency: Many programs are state-specific and require the individual to be a resident of that state.
  5. Application: Almost all programs require the individual to fill out an application, which often includes a detailed explanation of why the funds are needed and how they will be used.
  6. Non-Repeat Offenders: Some programs prioritize first-time offenders or those who have not re-offended within a certain period.
  7. Substance-Free: Depending on the program, there may be requirements for sobriety or participation in substance abuse treatment programs.
  8. Specific Uses: In business or educational grants, the funds must be used for specified purposes such as starting a business or pursuing education.

It’s important to note that these are general guidelines and the specific requirements can vary greatly between different programs and states. Always check with the specific organization or program for the most accurate information.

FAQs about Free Money for Ex Felons

What Types of Financial Assistance are Available for Ex-felons?

Various assistance is available, including state and federal grants, business grants, housing assistance, education grants, and programs offered by non-profit organizations.

Can Ex-felons Apply for Government Grants?

Yes, ex-felons can apply for certain government grants. However, the type and availability of these grants can vary based on individual circumstances and location.

Do Prisoners Get Money on Release?

Yes, many prisoners in the United States receive a small sum of money upon release, often called “gate money” that ranges from $50 to $300. The exact amount varies by state, with some offering a flat rate and others providing variable amounts based on the prisoner’s available funds or earnings from prison jobs.


In brief, these were some programs offering free money for ex-felons or other types of assistance covering basic needs, pursuing an education, finding a job, or starting a business.

Remember, applying for these programs takes time and patience, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t receive help right away. Stay persistent, seek out local resources, and don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

Please note that this blog post provides general information. The availability of these programs and the specific eligibility requirements may vary by location.

Always check with the individual program for the most accurate and current information.


Steven George


Steven, with 17 years of government and NGO experience, was a Federal tax specialist. He's won several awards for his work. Now, he's helping underprivileged people through NGOs.

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