Pubdate: Mon, 10 Oct 2005
Source: Spectrum, The (NY Edu)
Contact:  http://spectrum.buffalo.edu/
Address: SUNY At Buffalo, Suite 132, Student Union, Buffalo, NY 14260
Fax: 716.645.2766
Copyright: 2005 - The Spectrum Student Periodical, Inc
Author: Tom Angell

LOSING COLLEGE AID AN UNFAIR DRUG DETERRENT

As college students around the country prepare for this semester's 
midterms, thousands of their would-be classmates don't have anything 
to study for because of a federal law that strips financial aid from 
people with drug convictions.

The policy is currently being reconsidered as Congress renews the 
Higher Education Act for the first time in seven years. While the HEA 
was originally enacted in 1965 to make higher education more 
accessible and affordable for all Americans, the Drug Provision added 
during the 1998 HEA reauthorization  is an unjustifiable roadblock 
in the path to college. Over the past seven years, more than 175,000 
students have lost their financial aid because of the HEA drug provision.

Every student affected by this law has already gone through the 
courts. Taking away their financial aid punishes them twice for the 
same crime. Drug crimes are the only infractions that students lose 
aid for  murderers and rapists are still eligible. And because of 
racial profiling and the discriminatory enforcement of drug laws, the 
policy disproportionately keeps people of color out of college.

Last month, Congress's own researchers at the Government 
Accountability Office were unable to find any evidence the provision 
actually reduces drug abuse. In fact, other federal studies show that 
high school graduates not attending college are far more likely to 
use drugs than those in college.

Besides worsening our nation's drug problems and victimizing students 
who are trying to turn their lives around with a college education, 
this law hurts America's economic productivity and makes our streets 
more dangerous.

TOM ANGELL

Campaign Director,

Students for Sensible Drug Policy  
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