What About the Kids? Non-Profit Launches Program For Students with Drug Convictions

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When President Johnson signed the Higher Education Act in 1965, he said, “By passing this we bridge the gap between helplessness and hope for educationally deprived children.” The act was intended to give underprivileged children access to education by giving federal money to universities and creating programs like Head Start.

Just 30 years later, in 1998, a Representative from Indiana created a change that is now known as the Aid Elimination Policy. This policy makes students ineligible for federal financial aid if they are found guilty of a misdemeanor drug crime, essentially crushing the bridge between the gap of helplessness and hope for children and young adults nationwide.

With the average cost of a college degree reeling in at nearly $40,000, most students are forced to drop out, never to complete school. Since the implantation of the 1998 Aid Elimination policy, nearly a quarter of a million students have been denied grants, student loans, and even access to work study programs. Good paying jobs are hard to come by and nearly impossible to obtain without a college degree, leading the students to a lifetime of living paycheck to paycheck.

Despite a majority of the nation in support of marijuana legalization, most states still consider possession of marijuana to be a misdemeanor. Even in the states that have legalized marijuana for recreational and/or medical purposes, marijuana is still a misdemeanor for minors and young adults. Leaving possession a crime is putting them at risk of losing their futures before they’ve even begun.

More than 1 in 3 high school students in America report using marijuana, a staggering statistic considering the 15.1 million high school students in the United States. There are no benefits in removing a student from school. As of now, millions of American children risk losing their futures due to unjust and outdated policies.

Realizing there were little to no resources available for students who have fallen victim to the Aid Elimination Policy, Sons and Daughters United, a non-profit criminal justice reform group, launched a new scholarship program for students affected by the policy in the belief that all people have a right to an education regardless of their criminal record. The program, which was launched early this year, is the first of its kind. Organizers of the group claim they are projecting to spend a whopping $40,000 on the program this year alone.

For previous Ladybud articles about the damages of the War on Drugs, click here.
Photo Credit: Aaron Hawkins under CC BY-ND 2.0