Sunday, April 16, 2006

How is your state hurt by the Aid Elimination Penalty?

Students for Sensible Drug Policy's Freedom of Information Act dispute with the U.S. Department of Education has finally paid off. Once we sued them over the ridiculous $4,000 fee they wanted to charge us, the government quickly gave up and handed over numbers on how many students in every state have lost financial aid due to drug convictions.

Read SSDP's state-by-state report to find out how the Higher Education Act (HEA) Aid Elimination Penalty is impacting your state.

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USA Today printed an article about SSDP's state-by-state report on page A3 this morning. SSDP and ACLU are quoted.

"I think it's important that all members (of Congress) know exactly how many of their constituents' lives have been ruined by this policy," says Tom Angell, campaigns director for Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the constitutionality of the law in federal court. "This is the only offense for which one can be denied financial aid," says attorney Adam Wolf of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project based in Santa Cruz, Calif.

If you can afford it, please make a donation to SSDP's efforts on behalf of students.


Charles said...

Tom, can you talk about how the random drug test restore elegibility? I feel as though a lot of congresspersons would consider the legislation sound if it provides an incentative for students to go through rehab programs and prove they're not using drugs.

Also, does the information sequestered happen to break down what drugs the students did that made them ineligible?

Tom Angell said...


Thanks for your questions.

It is true that students can get their aid back early if they take treatment with random drug testing. BUT, the law doesn't make any money available for such rehab programs - so the very people who are unable to afford tuition on their own are unlikely to be able to afford expensive private treatment. We've talked with many students who looked in to this option and found that local treatment programs were even more expensive than tuition!

The answer to your second question is, unfortunately, no.