When Louisiana college students want to use federal financial aid to pay for school, they have to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. They must do so each year they hope to use financial assistance. On the FAFSA form are questions about the student’s history and whether he or she received any convictions for drug-related infractions. Until recently, how a student answered these questions determined whether that student would be eligible for financial aid in the year to come.
According to Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, a college student’s honest answers about whether he or she received any drug convictions in the past year are no longer going to prevent him or her from receiving aid.
The old rule
In the past, any drug conviction, regardless of type, could make a college student unable to use federal aid for a year, two years or even longer. How long a student would become ineligible for aid would depend on certain factors. These factors include the seriousness of the drug offense and whether that student had any prior infractions.
The new rule
Many have long felt that penalizing students by taking away their financial aid was not an effective way to get them to abstain from substance abuse. Instead, many argued that getting a college education is a good way to get back on the right track and avoid criminal behavior. Now, college students who have drug convictions may report their convictions without worrying that, by doing so, they are making themselves ineligible for aid.
While answers about drug convictions no longer affect financial aid eligibility, these questions still appear on the FAFSA form. Also, while drug violations no longer impact aid eligibility, they may still lead to serious criminal consequences.