Education A Washington Roundup

Groups Challenge U.S. Ban on Aid for Drug Offenders

By Alyson Klein — March 28, 2006 1 min read

Two groups last week challenged a provision in the federal Higher Education Act that makes students with drug convictions ineligible for federal financial aid.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Students for Sensible Drug Policy filed a lawsuit March 22 against Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings in U.S. District Court in Aberdeen, S.D. The suit seeks to halt implementation of the provision.

Congress softened the restriction in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which President Bush signed earlier this year. The revised measure, which is expected to take effect later this year, will give students with prior drug-possession or -trafficking convictions access to federal college loans and grants, but will still penalize those who are convicted of drug charges while enrolled in college.

Tom J. Angell, the campaigns director at SSDP, based in Washington, said that the change would still leave thousands of students without financial aid.

The Department of Education said it was reviewing the suit.

A version of this article appeared in the March 29, 2006 edition of Education Week