Approximately 200,000 students in the United States have lost the ability to get student loans and other educational assistance because of the Drug War. Section 862 (a)-(b) of the Controlled Substances Act states in part:
§ 862. Denial of Federal benefits to drug traffickers and possessors:
(a) Drug traffickers
(1) Any individual who is convicted of any Federal or State offense consisting of the distribution of controlled substances shall— (A) at the discretion of the court, upon the first conviction for such an offense be ineligible for any or all Federal benefits for up to 5 years after such conviction; (B) at the discretion of the court, upon a second conviction for such an offense be ineligible for any or all Federal benefits for up to 10 years after such conviction; and (C) upon a third or subsequent conviction for such an offense be permanently ineligible for all Federal benefits…
(b) Drug possessors
(1) Any individual who is convicted of any Federal or State offense involving the possession of a controlled substance (as such term is defined for purposes of this subchapter) shall— (A) upon the first conviction for such an offense and at the discretion of the court— (i) be ineligible for any or all Federal benefits for up to one year; (ii) be required to successfully complete an approved drug treatment program which includes periodic testing to insure that the individual remains drug free; (iii) be required to perform appropriate community service; or (iv) any combination of clause (i), (ii), or (iii); and (B) upon a second or subsequent conviction for such an offense be ineligible for all Federal benefits for up to 5 years after such conviction as determined by the court…
While this section allows for possible reinstatement following a drug treatment program, the premise upon which that provision depends is that the individual involved needs treatment. But the most likely scenario is that the student involved was convicted of possession of marijuana – far and away the most likely reason for arrest and conviction of a young person involving drugs. The entire premise would be farcical if it were not so serious.
Read the Office of National Drug Control Policy and U.S. Department of Education FAFSA (Free Application for Student Assistance) Fact Sheet on student aid and drug convictions for more information.
Are you a student who has lost assistance because of a drug-related conviction? We want to tell your story.