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December 2005
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Student financial aid provision possibly on its way to partial reform

Not a very strong headline, but…
Dare Generation Diary reports that reform to the horrid HEA (Higher Education Act) financial aid provision (that denies financial aid to students with a drug conviction) passed the Senate yesterday (as part of the spending bill in that 51-50 vote where Cheney broke the tie).
Now, first of all, there isn’t enough praise that can be given to the efforts of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. These folks have worked tirelessly for years, developing partnerships, getting universities to pass resolutions, lobbying directly with Congress, etc. to make inroads in this issue. And they’ve taken on the worst of the drug warriors (including Souder) to do so.
Unfortunately, the celebration can only be partial. First, the spending bill itself is far from certain to be passed — since extra provisions were inserted in the Senate version, it has to go back to the House, and the House probably won’t be back in session until late January. The bill only passed the House by about 6 votes last time, so expect some drama.
Second, even if/when the HEA reform provision is passed (as I expect it will be eventually), it’s still a hollow victory. It only exempts those who had a conviction prior to attending college. Any drug conviction while in college will end financial aid. The entire provision should have been repealed — this kind of penalty doesn’t exist for anything other than drug use. It targets poor people who smoke pot. (Surprise, surprise.) Someone who isn’t rich, who gets caught passing a joint at a party, loses their financial aid and ends up not getting an education, regardless of how well they’re doing in school. How does that help them or society?
Support SSDP and help them continue their fight against the HEA provision.

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