A provision in a massive budget bill passed by Congress could help thousands of adult drug offenders regain eligibility for federal education aid, says the Associated Press. Students convicted while receiving federal aid will still lose their eligibility: one year for a first possession offense, two years for a second and indefinitely for a third, with harsher penalties for selling.
Under new rules that President Bush is expected to sign into law, offenders who weren’t enrolled in school and getting taxpayer support when they were convicted can apply for aid. The change is expected to benefit mostly older students who had finished school before they were convicted and now wish to go back. Offenders can also regain eligibility by completing certain drug treatment programs. Advocacy groups welcome the change but want Congress to go further, opening aid to any offender regardless of the timing of the conviction.