In the past, college students who were also financial aid recipients would become unable to use aid following a drug conviction. However, a vote recently took place that would repeal the Higher Education Act Aid Elimination Penalty, which should change the way drug cases potentially impact your child and other future college students.

According to Forbes, the Higher Education Act Aid Elimination Penalty first took shape in 1998, and it dictated that college students convicted of drug crimes would become ineligible for federal financial aid. The exact duration of that ineligibility period would depend on various factors, such as the severity of your child’s crime. However, the penalty made it substantially harder for many people with limited means to continue their college education.

An ineffective means of punishment

Many people who oppose the penalty have long argued that making it more difficult for students to further their education was not helping anyone in the long run. Instead, opponents argue, punishing students in this manner may make them more likely to fall into substance abuse, whereas continuing their education may make them more likely to abstain from it.

Hardships for minorities and low-income families

Opponents of the act also claim that it unfairly targets minorities and families with limited income. How? Families with more manageable income levels might be able to make up the difference following a loss of financial aid, whereas other families might be unable to do so. Also, a racial disparity exists in many areas with regard to drug enforcement efforts, suggesting that minorities are more frequent targets of such efforts than their white peers.

The U.S. Department of Education refers to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid forms when determining whether your college student has any drug crimes on his or her record. However, a bill filed recently would remove the drug conviction question from the form, potentially paving the way for more college-bound students to utilize federal financial aid.