NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 17, 2006

One in every 400 students applying for federal financial aid for college is rejected because of a drug conviction, an analysis of Department of Education numbers by a drug policy overhaul group found.

  • A study by Students for Sensible Drug Policy says 189,065 people have been turned down for financial aid since the federal government added a drug conviction question to the financial aid form in the 2000-01school year.
  • A September report from the Government Accountability Office shows that in the 2003-04 academic year, about 41,000 applicants for federal student aid were disqualified because of drug convictions. A student can regain eligibility, however, by completing a rehabilitation program that includes random drug tests.

According to the researchers:

  • Indiana has the highest percentage of rejections, with one in 200 students denied financial aid because of drug convictions.
  • Other states ranking above the national average are Oregon, California, Washington, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Connecticut, Arkansas, Texas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Iowa and Alaska.

Indiana Rep. Mark Souder, a Republican and author of the legislation, says it makes no difference how the states rank.

"The principle remains the same: the American taxpayer should not be subsidizing the educations of those students who are convicted of dealing or using illegal drugs," Souder says.

Source: Donna Leinwand, "Drug convictions costing students their financial aid," USA Today, April 17, 2006; based upon: "Harmful Drug Law Hits Home: How Many College Students in Each State Lost Financial Aid Due to Drug Convictions?" Students for Sensible Drug Policy, April 17, 2006.

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