The current law on federal student aid disqualifies anyone from receiving federal student aid or loans if he/she has a drug conviction, even just a drug possession conviction that is a misdemeanor. For instance, if a student is caught with a small amount of marijuana and gets convicted of drug possession, he/she would not be eligible to receive federal student aid. If a person decided to go back to school as an adult and had a drug possession conviction from twenty years ago, he/she may not be eligible for federal student aid based on that old drug possession conviction.
However, a new bill being proposed in Congress seeks to change that law. The new law, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009, would allow people convicted of drug possession crimes to remain eligible for student aid. People convicted of more serious drug crimes, such as selling drugs, would not be eligible for federal student aid. One of the reasons for the proposed new law is that taking away a person’s ability to go to or finish college does not do much to keep people off of drugs. For the millions of kids who experiment with drugs in college but otherwise go on to be productive members of the community, the new law would ensure that the minor mistake of a drug possession charge does not prohibit them from graduating college and attaining their career goals.