Editorial: Convictions shouldn’t matter

In the upcoming year more than 34,000 people may be denied federal loans and grants for college education because of a past drug conviction. The law covering the ban on funds was developed to take funds away from those who were convicted of drug charges while receiving funds. On applications for the grants and loans the question is being used to deny people of federal education funds regardless of the circumstances surrounding the conviction.

This type of screening is ridiculous. In no way should drug abuse be condoned, nor should a past conviction be completely ignored, but whether a person has been convicted of a drug charge should not be the determining factor of whether they should be entitled to federal funds.

The question about past drug offenses is required to be answered on the loan and grant application forms and if the box is checked “yes” then another form is sent out asking the person to detail the incident. What makes this an unfair question is that there is no question on the application that asks if someone is convicted of weapons charges or child abuse or anything else for that matter. It is unfair that a simple event that may have occurred years earlier could hinder some people from pursuing a higher education.

In the 2000-01 year almost 280,000 people left the question blank. After sending letters telling them to answer the question, those 9,548 who answered yes to the drug conviction question were denied funds. This system is flawed, and legislation to have the law repealed should be supported.

The question is unfair and biased only toward a specific group of people. It should be eliminated so that all applicants are given a fair opportunity of receiving funds to pursue a higher education.