At the Drug Policy Alliance we are committed to making sure that students convicted of drug law violations get a fair shot at a quality education.
In 1998, Congress passed the Souder amendment. This law denied federal aid to any student with a drug law conviction. In 2006, the law was amended to apply only to students who are enrolled in college and receiving financial aid at the time of their conviction. Still, one interaction with the criminal legal system can permanently destroy a student's future prospects.
The Souder amendment unfairly penalizes students who are not wealthy. Under this law, a drug conviction carries far more serious consequences for a student who depends on federal aid to afford their education than for a student who does not.
Steven Mangual enrolled in college when he was incarcerated for a drug-related crime at the age of 21, and it was then that he discovered his love of learning. But his dream of achieving a college degree was thwarted when Congress passed the 1994 Crime Bill ending Pell grants (i.e. federal student aid) for incarcerated people. Steven was devastated when he found out that the door to higher education and greater opportunity had been slammed shut. Drug convictions are routinely used to deny educational opportunities for people at all stages of their education.
Learn more about how the drug war invades our schools at UprootingTheDrugWar.org.
DPA believes the following principles when it comes to federal student aid access:
The Drug Policy Alliance is working to repeal the Souder amendment. Students with drug convictions should be able to access the financial aid that could mean the difference between continuing their education and not.