ACLU Endorses Repeal of Unfair Financial Aid Denials

May 21, 2002 12:00 am

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ACLU Endorses Repeal of Unfair Financial Aid Denials; Says Students Should Not Have Future Stripped Away for Youthful Indiscretions

Says Students Should Not Have Future Stripped Away for Youthful Indiscretions


WASHINGTON – Concerned that more than 80,000 students – many of whom are persons of color and of limited means – have lost their financial aid because of predominantly minor drug convictions, the American Civil Liberties Union today joined with a large and diverse coalition formed to endorse a full repeal to the misguided law mandating this loss of aid.

“This law hurts exactly those kids it’s meant to help,” said Rachel King, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “The bulk of the students impacted by this denial of opportunity are from communities of color or of limited means. Rather than allowing them to better themselves through education, this misguided legislation tragically strips away their future potential.”

At issue is a provision in the Higher Education Act of 1998 (HEA) denying financial aid to students who have been convicted of a drug offense. Since its passage four years ago, over 80,000 students – many of whom are minorities and/or from economically disadvantaged backgrounds – have been affected by the law. Some have been forced to leave school altogether.

The ACLU today joined with a diverse coalition of civil rights groups, financial aid administrators and lawmakers – including the National Education Association, NAACP, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators – in submitting a letter to Congress urging full repeal of the financial aid provision in the law. Joining the coalition at a news conference on the provision today was Caton Volk, a student who should have graduated this year but lost his financial aid because of the law.

The bill to repeal the HEA provision has been designated HR 786 and already has 66 co-sponsors in the House. The financial aid provision only impacts those students convicted of a drug offense. Students convicted of other crimes, including ones of violence, do not lose their aid under HEA.

The coalition letter can be found at:

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