Urgent Action Needed — Higher Education Act

From Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (with assistance from NORML and DRCNet):

Since its inception, our organization has campaigned against a 1998
amendment to the Higher Education Act that denies federal financial aid to
anyone convicted of a drug-related offense, no matter how minor. The
provision is counter-productive and causes enormous harm, particularly to
middle- and low-income students who cannot afford the high costs of
college. Department of Education data indicates that more than 150,000
students have been adversely affected by the provision.

Today, repeal is within our reach. As part of the reauthorization of the
Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Senate will reconsider the ban
on federal financial aid for drug offenders. We just learned that the
vote on ONDCP reauthorization is tomorrow. To make a difference, you must
phone today!

If your Senator is on the Senate Judiciary Committee (below), take one or
two minutes to demand that he or she repeal the ban on federal financial
aid for drug offenders.

  • Alabama: Jeff Sessions (R-AL), (202) 224-4124, (202) 224-3149
  • Arizona: Jon Kyl (R), (202) 224-4521, fax (202) 224-2207
  • California: Dianne Feinstein (D), (202) 224-3841, fax: (202) 228-3954
  • Delaware: Joseph Biden (D), (202) 224-5042, fax: (202) 224-0139
  • Georgia: Saxby Chambliss (R), (202) 224-3521, fax: (202) 224-0103
  • Idaho: Larry Craig (R), (202) 224-2752, fax: (202) 228-1067
  • Illinois: Richard Durbin (D), (202) 224-2152, fax: (202) 228-0400
  • Iowa: Charles Grassley (R), (202) 224-3744; fax: (202) 224-6020
  • Massachusetts: Edward Kennedy (D), (202) 224-4543, fax: (202) 224-2417
  • New York: Charles Schumer (D-NY), (202) 224-6542, fax: (202) 228-3027
  • North Carolina: John Edwards (D), (202) 224-3154, fax: (202) 228-1374
  • Ohio: Mike DeWine (R), (202) 224-2315, fax: (202) 224-6519
  • Pennsylvania: Arlen Specter (R), (202) 224-4254; fax: (202) 228-1229
  • South Carolina: Lindsey Graham (R) (202) 224-5972, fax: (202) 224-1189
  • Texas: John Cornyn (R), (202) 224-2934, fax: (202) 228-2856
  • Utah: Orrin Hatch (R), (202) 224-5251, fax: (202) 224-5251
  • Vermont: Patrick Leahy (D), (202) 224-4242
  • Wisconsin: Herbert Kohl (D), (202) 224-5653, fax: (202) 224-9787
  • Wisconsin: Russell Feingold (D), (202) 224-5323, fax: (202) 224-2725

What to say:

Hello, my name is __________ and I’m from __________. I’m calling to ask
Senator __________ to take action tomorrow during the reauthorization of
the Office of National Drug Control Policy and support repeal of the ban
on federal financial aid for drug offenders.

This provision is poorly-designed and causes enormous harm.


– The ban only affects students from low- and middle-income families who
depend on aid to afford college. Students from wealthier backgrounds who
can afford to pay the full cost of college tuition are unaffected by the
drug provision.

– The ban has a discriminatory impact on minorities. For example,
African-Americans, who comprise 13% of the population and 13% of all drug
users, account for more than half of those convicted of drug possession

– The ban punishes students twice for the same crime. Students have
already paid whatever price the criminal justice system demands of them.
The provision represents an additional punishment that limits a student’s
ability to get an education.

– The ban will not solve our nation’s drug problem. To limit the number
of deserving students eligible for federal financial aid is
counter-productive. Access to a college education is the surest route to
the mainstream economy and a crime-free life.

I hope that Senator ________ will work to repeal this damaging,
discriminatory ban. Thank you.

More info here. You need to act right away, because this is happening NOW. If you can call, do so first thing in the morning on Thursday if possible. If you have fax capability, do so as soon as you read this. If neither is possible, use this page to send a note (it’s hard to say if emails will get to the Senators in time).
We’ve got to get rid of this horrible provision.
Of course, what I prefer to do is call my senator and tell him not to re-authorize the ONDCP at all, but that won’t happen.

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