Drug convicts deserve access to financial aid

    The third time may in fact be the charm for Rep. Barney Frank’s (D-Mass.) attempt to repeal the Higher Education Act’s drug provision, which is now in its sixth year of practice and, according to its author, a misinterpretation.

    When Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) wrote the law in 1998, he didn’t expect the bill to prevent everyone ever convicted of a drug offense from receiving financial aid; he originally intended for the bill to only deny aid to students convicted of a drug offense while in college, and has recently voiced support for the bill’s revision. However, a new interpretation of this bill isn’t enough; Congress should finally side with Frank and abolish the old law.

    While it is true that students have a responsibility to focus on their education and put taxpayer money to good use, both the revised and the current interpretation of the law are undeserved and counterproductive.

    The drug provision should be abolished completely to eliminate this myopic and discriminatory approach to the disbursement of federal financial funds; distribution of aid to students should be on a need-basis only.

    Since the bill went into effect, 150,000 students nationwide have been deemed ineligible for aid. Sadly, these are often the students who have the most to gain from a college education.

    It is ridiculous to question who is more deserving of financial aid when the lack of education and drug use have a close correlation. A congressional decision to adopt Frank’s insight and repeal the HEA drug provision is the only way to move past this damaging attitude.

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