If you live in Georgia, have been convicted of a drug-related offense and want to go to college, you may have some hurdles to contend with. A big one is that your ability to receive financial aid is cut off for a certain period of time, and this means higher education is financially unattainable for many students.
According to Federal Student Aid, being incarcerated for any reason limits your eligibility to get student aid, but eligibility is extremely limited for those serving for drug offenses. Eligibility for loans, work-study opportunities and grants is suspended for potential and current students. Those who get convicted after a period of receiving aid may be required to return some of the money. Eligibility can be regained in a couple of circumstances, which are passing two random drug tests or completing a drug rehab program.
The American Civil Liberties Union discusses that this law, enacted in 1998, is unconstitutional as well as wrong from a moral perspective. Whether students are convicted for selling drugs or just possessing them, there is a certain amount of time the ineligibility lasts and it ranges from one year to forever. There is an argument that the law discriminates against low-income students, especially Latinos and blacks who are already victims of the judicial system.
The practice of barring students from receiving student aid is also counterproductive. Education has been shown to prevent crime and keep people out of jail, but if they cannot afford to attend school they are kept in the same situation and life that led to the conviction in the first place.