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Students: Beware financial aid fallout from drug convictions

Mar 02, 2007 Students: Beware financial aid fallout from drug convictions

Convictions for marijuana and other drugs should not be permitted to cut off student financial aid. (Image from public domain.)

Criminal defendants need to consider not only the direct consequences of a criminal conviction (e.g., the potential of incarceration, fines, probation, and higher sentences for any future convictions), but also such collateral consequences as adverse immigration consequences, risks to employment and security clearances, risks to academic standing, and risks to student financial aid.

Sadly, the Aid Elimination Provision of the Higher Education Act (HEA) provides for at least a temporary cutoff of federal financial aid even for students convicted of nothing worse than marijuana possession. As the American Civil Liberties Union’s website explains, the HEA imposes the following harm to student financial aid for drug convictions:

“Students convicted for possession are automatically ineligible for aid for one year from the date of the first offense, two years from the date of the second offense, and indefinitely if convicted three or more times. Students convicted for sale are automatically ineligible for aid for two years from the date of a first offense, and indefinitely if convicted two or more times. Students barred from receiving aid can regain eligibility prior to the designated terms only by completing a federally approved drug rehabilitation program, of which there is a severe and well-documented shortage, even if they are not addicted to drugs.”

Fortunately, numerous activists are working to reverse this state of affairs in the federal and state legislatures. To get involved and for more information, visit here and here, Jon Katz.

ADDENDUM: In addition to the above information link on this situation from Students for Sensible Drug Policy, please electronically sign the SSDP’s petition letter supporting the RISE Act — fully quoted below — to repeal statutory provisions precluding student financial assistance for people convicted of drug offenses.

 

H. R. 1184

To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to repeal the provisions prohibiting persons convicted of drug offenses from receiving student financial assistance.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts (for himself, Mr. WAXMAN, Mr. OWENS, Mr. MARKEY, Mr. PAYNE, Mr. HINCHEY, Mr. LANTOS, Ms. LEE, Mr. BROWN of Ohio, Mr. CUMMINGS, Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California, Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD, Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California, Mr. FILNER, Ms. SCHAKOWSKY, Mr. FARR, Mr. VAN HOLLEN, Mr. MCDERMOTT, Ms. WATSON, Mr. OLVER, Mr. ABERCROMBIE, Mr. WEXLER, Mr. CLYBURN, Ms. SLAUGHTER, Mr. MCGOVERN, Mr. CAPUANO, Ms. CARSON, Ms. VELAZQUEZ, Ms. ESHOO, Mr. STARK, Mr. KUCINICH, Mr. MATHESON, Mr. GUTIERREZ, Mr. GRIJALVA, Mr. ISRAEL, Mr. TIERNEY, Mr. DAVIS of Illinois, Mr. ALLEN, Mr. TOWNS, Ms. WATERS, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. WATT, Mr. NEAL of Massachusetts, Ms. LINDA T. SANCHEZ of California, Ms. BALDWIN, Mrs. JONES of Ohio, Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas, Mr. RANGEL, Mr. BERMAN, Mr. NADLER, and Ms. NORTON) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce

A BILL

To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to repeal the provisions prohibiting persons convicted of drug offenses from receiving student financial assistance.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Removing Impediments to Students Education Act ‘ or the `RISE Act’.

SEC. 2. REPEAL OF PROVISIONS PROHIBITING PERSONS CONVICTED OF DRUG OFFENSES FROM RECEIVING STUDENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE.

Subsection (r) of section 484 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1091(r)) is repealed.

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