When students in Pennsylvania face charges related to drugs and alcohol, they may worry about their student aid — and with good reason. There was a time when students could not get financial aid if they were convicted of selling or being in possession of illegal drugs.
According to CNBC, a question on the 2020 to 2021 school year application for FAFSA asked if a person had ever faced drug convictions. Students who answered yes would face restrictions until they completed a rehabilitation program and passed two drug tests administered at random. Every conviction then adds on another year of financial aid restrictions.
Some people might argue that it was only fair for the government to not give aid to convicts. However, the irony is that people who broke into houses instead remained eligible for financial aid. This implies that the issue was less about crime and more about drugs itself.
That discrepancy has caused lawmakers to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate this rule and its relevance in modern-day college life. Many lawmakers now believe that it unfairly targets minorities and people from lower-income backgrounds.
Forbes reports that as of late October 2019, Congress approved a bill to eliminate the restrictions against students who had drug charges. One of the main arguments for the change, cited by Forbes, is that restricting access to better education is counterproductive to resolving issues related to substance abuse and illegal activities. Instead, it could create a cycle of lower education levels, poverty and addiction.
This comes as great news for parents who worried about the educational future of their children. Still, it is important to remember that drug charges may hinder a student in other ways. That record may follow them for the rest of their lives, making it impossible for them to gain employment in certain fields and difficult in others.