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Substance abuse among students pose threat to college aspirations

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that employees may not be discriminated on based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, family history, or age.[i] With almost every employment application criminal history are checked. Criminal histories can stay on your record for 10 years or more depending on the charges, sometimes they may be used for a person’s lifetime.

According to LaChappelle, 67% of all colleges and universities have a required criminal history check.[ii] LaChappelle argues that with the disproportional number of minorities that get convicted of a crime at an early age this really influences who can and cannot go to college.[iii]

Having a criminal record can make it difficult to obtain financial aid while in college, especially if you received the charge while you were on student aid. On-campus jobs are also difficult to obtain because individuals who qualify for financial aid typically get the highest priority for those positions.

The Center on Young Adult Health and Development Study for 2013 reports high school seniors who have plans to attend college are less likely to use marijuana that those students who do not plant to go to college.[iv] The study finds that 38% of college students have tried marijuana prior to entering college, while 25% never used marijuana until after entering college.[v]

Another aspect of college admission and drug abuse is restricting students with criminal drug-related charges access to federal student aid. Under federal law, if a student receives federal aid to go to school and is convicted of a drug offense, the student is in violation of the Higher Education Act and can get that aide taken away for future years.[vi] Though drug convictions do not affect a student’s current financial aid package, like Pell Grants or other federal aid, the student must can and will be restricted for their reapplication of the FAFSA.[vii]

One large aspect of college alcohol and drug abuse is its’ relationship with employability. According to the Center on Young Adult Health and Development, students who abuse drugs and alcohol during college are much more likely to have a harder time finding a job and maintaining relationships outside of school once they graduate.[viii] Moreover, their findings conclude those who abuse drugs or alcohol are much more likely to not even graduate.[ix] They claim “in addition to reducing other adverse outcomes associated with drinking… policies to reduce college student drinking can be expected to improve the quality of human capital they accumulate. The immediate benefits of this include reducing the likelihood of students dropping out because of poor grades and improving the likelihood of entrance into graduate programs (which is based largely on college GPA). The long-term consequences of improved academic performance include greater labor market participation and higher earnings.”[x] This indicates that students are more likely to be an economic detriment to themselves, their families, and society if they abuse alcohol or drugs in college.

Though it is unclear how many drug-related convictions affect graduating high school students, according to the TSS over 1/3rd of students in Region 9 are at risk because of their illegal consumption of marijuana. However, reapplication for federal student aid does not just affect graduating seniors. Rather, any student receiving federal student aid, including those in college, become at risk for losing their federal student aid if they are convicted of a drug-related offense.[xi] According to The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, Pell Grants and other federal student aid accounts for nearly 75% of student graduation and course completion throughout the United States.[xii] This means 3 out of every 4 students can be at risk for their Pell Grants being pulled if they are convicted of a drug-related crime.

ATOD use among students who aspire to go to school can risk more than adolescent health. The opportunity to apply for federal grants or loans, as well as even afford or do well in school can be largely dependent on substance abuse.

By Kevin Thompson Regional Evaluator

Region 9 Prevention Resource Center

kthompson@pbrcada.org

[i] Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Fact Sheet, May 2016.

[ii] LaChappelle, L. Applying to College with a Criminal record, October 8, 2014 truth-out.org/opinion/item/26576-applying-to-college-with-a-criminal-record, May 2016.

[iii] LaChappelle, L. Applying to College with a Criminal record, October 8, 2014 truth-out.org/opinion/item/26576-applying-to-college-with-a-criminal-record, May 2016.

[iv] Arria AM, Garnier-Dykstra LM, Caldeira KM, Vincent KB, Winick ER, O'Grady KE, Drug use patterns and continuous enrollment in college: results from a longitudinal study, Journal for Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Jannuary 2013, July 2016.

[v] Arria AM, Garnier-Dykstra LM, Caldeira KM, Vincent KB, Winick ER, O'Grady KE, Drug use patterns and continuous enrollment in college: results from a longitudinal study, Journal for Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Jannuary 2013, July 2016.

[vi] Department of Education, Student Aid: Students with Criminal Convictions, May 2016.

[vii] Department of Education, Student Aid: Students with Criminal Convictions, May 2016.

[viii] Arria AM, Garnier-Dykstra LM, Caldeira KM, Vincent KB, Winick ER, O'Grady KE, Drug use patterns and continuous enrollment in college: results from a longitudinal study, Journal for Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Jannuary 2013, July 2016.

[ix] Arria AM, Garnier-Dykstra LM, Caldeira KM, Vincent KB, Winick ER, O'Grady KE, Drug use patterns and continuous enrollment in college: results from a longitudinal study, Journal for Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Jannuary 2013, July 2016.

[x] Arria AM, Garnier-Dykstra LM, Caldeira KM, Vincent KB, Winick ER, O'Grady KE, Drug use patterns and continuous enrollment in college: results from a longitudinal study, Journal for Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Jannuary 2013, July 2016.

[xi] Department of Education, Student Aid: Students with Criminal Convictions, May 2016.

[xii] Department of Education, Student Aid: Students with Criminal Convictions, May 2016



Published August 9, 2016.

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