Students convicted of any other crime, even murder or rape, are still eligible for financial aid and tax credits, while those convicted of marijuana or other drug charges face a bar to aid that lasts anywhere from one year to life.
Some 10 million students apply for federal financial aid each year. According to the federal government's estimates, some 27 percent of all Americans aged 18 to 25 have used illegal drugs in the past year. That means the new law could potentially affect hundreds of thousands, even millions, of students.
According to the bill's author, Congressman Mark Souder (R-IN), the measure was intended to apply only to college students already getting loans or grants when convicted. But under the Bush Administration, the U.S. Department of Education has interpreted the law to apply to any student with a history of selling or possessing drugs, no matter how minor the offense.
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