Putting a child through college involves a major investment, and even then, you may need to secure student loans to make ends meet. You may have heard rumors that any financial aid your child uses may go away if he or she receives a conviction for a drug charge, but is this actually true? 

The short answer is yes, but lawmakers are trying to change this rule for several important reasons. Here is how the current law works. 

How drug convictions threaten financial aid 

Right now, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid asks whether your child received a drug conviction while receiving federal aid in the form of grants, loans or work-study money. If your child’s answer is yes, he or she becomes ineligible for financial aid for a predetermined period. However, your child may become eligible for aid again after successfully passing two drug tests or completing a drug rehabilitation program. 

Arguments against the penalty 

Many opponents to penalizing students for drug convictions argue that making it harder for them to further their education is a poor way of combatting substance abuse. Instead, many argue, furthering one’s education is one of the strongest and most effective ways to prevent future drug use. 

Many opponents also argue that obtaining a degree is difficult enough without these added repercussions and that they unfairly penalize minorities and those with limited income. History shows that minorities are more common targets of drug enforcement tactics than their Caucasian peers. Also, students with more money may be able to continue schooling even without financial aid, while students of limited financial means may find it much harder to do so. 

The Financial Aid Fairness for Students Act 

Those against the penalty have proposed a Financial Aid Fairness for Students Act, which would eliminate the question about drug offenses from Free Application for Federal Students Aid.