Asa Hutchinson Reviews Student Financial Aid Laws

October 22, 2005--Posted at 11:20 p.m. CST

FAYETTEVILLE--Asa Hutchinson, former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, says a college student's past drug convictions should not automatically disqualify that person from
receiving financial aid.

Now a Republican candidate for Arkansas governor, Hutchinson said society would benefit if federal law preventing financial aid to college students with a drug record were changed to allow for
certain circumstances.

He said he does not advocate a complete disregard of a financial aid applicant's drug history, but the law should take into account, for instance, whether the student was on financial aid before the
crime occurred and the nature of the crime, such as whether it was a drug-dealing offense.

Hutchinson said denying access to education might not be a good
move. Congress authorized the aid restriction in 1998 as part of the
Higher Education Act. A pending House bill would repeal the

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)