Federal Bills Seek To Reinstate Student Aid Eligibility To Minor Marijuana Offenders

Washington, DC: A bipartisan coalition of US senators introduced legislation last week to restore student financial aid eligibility to minor marijuana offenders.

Senate Bill 2557: The Stopping Unfair Collateral Consequences from Ending Student Success Act, aka the SUCCESS Act, sponsored by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), repeals the language in the Higher Education Act that strips students of aid because of a past drug offense, and removes the drug conviction question from the student aid application form (FAFSA).

Between 2013 and 2014, 1,107 applicants lost eligibility for a full year of aid because of a drug conviction or a failure to report one, according to Department of Education.

“A youthful mistake shouldn’t keep a person out of college and the middle class,” Sen. Casey said. “There’s now an emerging bipartisan consensus on the need to reform our criminal justice system and ensure students who have already paid their debt to society are not punished twice.”

Separate House legislation, HR 3561: The Fair Access to Education Act, also remains pending in Congress.

For more information, please contact Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director, or visit NORML’s Take Action Center: http://www.norml.org/act.