American students pay some of the highest costs in the world for accessing higher education. Whereas students in Germany, Greece or even Cuba may access school for free, American students pay tens of thousands of dollars to attend colleges and universities. Through financial aid, some people may lower the out-of-pocket costs of tertiary education. However, a drug conviction can make it next to impossible to receive that aid.
In 2015, U.S. News reported that any drug convictions at the state or federal level could disqualify a student from receiving financial aid. This was the case whether the charge was for selling drugs or possession. However, the crime must have been committed while the student was receiving financial aid from the government. For drug trafficking, however, a federal judge may decide that the person is no longer eligible for any federal benefits, which may include student aid.
CNBC News recently reported that this may change soon. As lawmakers reconsider how they tackle the fight against drugs, many now question whether disqualifying students for drug convictions makes sense. Does it help or hurt the problem? After all, people who get convicted of burglary may still be eligible for financial aid, so why a specific disqualification for drugs?
Over 30 co-sponsors joined a congresswoman this month to introduce a new bill to tackle this problem. It is called the Financial Aid Fairness for Students Act. It aims to remove the question from the financial aid application that asks about drug convictions.
This, in turn, might open up more opportunities for students who made an honest mistake. Not surprisingly, many await the outcome with bated breath.