Washington, D.C. – Tuesday, Oct. 1, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) introduced the FAFSA Act (the Financial Aid Fairness for Students Act) to repeal a law that makes it all but impossible for people with a drug conviction, no matter how petty, to receive federal financial aid for higher education.
The law in question, Section 484(r) of the Higher Education Act, suspends federal college aid from FAFSA for any person who is convicted of a drug offense. The law has discouraged thousands from even applying for aid and has denied aid from many as well.
“Mounting student loan debt is a crisis in our country,” said Rep. Bass. “As we rethink the War on Drugs and the convictions and prison sentences that came with it, we must address all aspects that impacted our communities. We should be doing everything we can to break down these barriers. Each of us here in Congress owe it to our constituents to assist in every way we can, which is why I’ve introduced legislation to eliminate barriers preventing people with a drug conviction from being able to receive federal financial aid. Investing in a person’s education is perhaps the best investment we can make to ensure our young people succeed. I urge all of my colleagues to support this important piece of legislation.”
“Education promotes economic well-being and labor force participation,” said Rep. Davis. “Excluding individuals who have struggled with addiction from financial assistance is an ineffective policy that has harmed tens of thousands of students. This policy unfairly targets poor and minority students and costs society more in terms of crime and lost economic productivity. Repealing this penalty is a smart, cost-effective investment of taxpayer dollars, and I will advocate for its inclusion in any reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.”
The bill is cosponsored by 34 other members of the House of Representatives. You can read the full bill here.