College is often a time for experimentation, but when that experimentation involves illegal drugs, it has the potential to lead to serious trouble and hardship. If you are the parent of a college student and authorities charge your son or daughter with a drug crime, he or she runs the risk of facing potentially serious consequences, including jail time, steep fines and more. Furthermore, college students convicted of drug crimes have long had their financial aid threatened as a result of their convictions, but signs indicate that this is about to change. 

According to Forbes, a congressional committee recently voted in favor of eliminating the Higher Education Act Aid Elimination Penalty. The penalty made college students who were also recipients of financial aid ineligible for aid for a predetermined length of time after receiving a drug conviction, making it harder for many to finance their way through school. 

Arguments against the penalty 

Critics of the penalty have long argued that making it more difficult for someone to pursue higher education is an ineffective means of combating substance abuse. Many argue that education is a great way to reduce substance abuse among young people and that communities often suffer the consequences when the government denies students their education. 

Others argue that the penalty is discriminatory. Research shows that people of color are more likely to receive drug charges than their white counterparts, suggesting that they would also be more likely to experience a loss of financial aid eligibility as a result. 

Changes to the FAFSA form 

The deletion of the Higher Education Act Aid Elimination Penalty may make it easier for your college student or others with drug convictions to continue their education. The new bill also means important changes for the FAFSA form. The form currently asks applicants about whether they have any drug convictions, but this may soon change. 

Drug convictions often have far-reaching implications. The more you know about what to expect in the aftermath of a conviction, the better.