Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush Joins Fight To Repeal Law That Denies Students Federal Financial Aid Due To Drug Convictions

Mar 8, 2005
Press Release

Washington, DC. ---- (March 8, 2005) - In an effort to reverse a dangerous trend of blocking students from attaining federal funds they need to go to college due to past mistakes, Congressman Bobby L. Rush and Members of Congress announced today that they would introduce new legislation that expands educational opportunities for ex-offenders with drug convictions.  The press conference will take place Thursday, March 10, 10:30 a.m. -11:00 a.m. (EST) at the U.S. Capitol Building, Room HC8.

An original co-sponsor of the House bill, Rep. Rush joins sponsor, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), 38 other congressional co-sponsors and more than 180 organizations, to ensure the Removing Impediments to Students' Education (RISE) Act becomes law. The RISE Act would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965.

"There is no other category of crime that has a ban on financial aid eligibility, so to single out ex-offenders with drug convictions is unacceptable," said Rush.  "Every individual deserves a second chance to pursue an education, and through the RISE Act, I will fight to ensure they receive one."

According to the Department of Education, nearly 160,000 students have been denied financial aid since the drug provision was enacted in 1998. This number does not include individuals who failed to apply because of the law or gave up in the middle of the application process once they reached Question #31 on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which reads: Has the student ever been convicted of selling illegal drugs?