Civil Rights Groups Seek End to Aid Restrictions for Students With Criminal Histories

July 15, 2019

In recommendations for higher education policy makers released last week, the Leadership Conference Education Fund called for removing barriers to college aid for students with previous involvement in the criminal justice system.

They specifically call for a streamlined Free Application for Federal Student Aid to drop a question asking about students’ past drug convictions, the coalition said. Civil rights advocates say the question has a disproportionate impact on minority applicants. And more broadly, the coalition says access to aid should not be affected by a student’s immigration status or involvement with the criminal justice system.

The wide-ranging recommendations from the coalition also deal with college affordability, accountability, student debt and civil rights enforcement.

The coalition also proposes that the federal government eliminate default status for student borrowers, a proposal advanced in a paper earlier this year by the Center for American Progress.

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