Drug Convictions and Student Loans: Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The Senate version of legislation to renew the Higher Education Act, notable for its increased funding of Pell Grants, also includes a welcome but less noticed provision:

The Senate legislation would also eliminate from the federal financial aid application a controversial question asking whether applicants have been convicted of drug possession while receiving federal student aid. That question has been used to identify and strip financial aid from thousands of students. While the Senate bill would leave the drug possession penalty in the law, dropping the question from the federal financial aid form would make enforcement of the provision very difficult.

Tom Angell, government relations director at Students for Sensible Drug Policy, responds sensibly:

“While it would be more appropriate to simply erase the penalty from the lawbooks altogether, we support the committee’s effort to make sure that students with drug convictions can get aid just like anyone else.”

SSDP makes it easy to contact your senator to support the change by visiting this page.

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    off topic -- Rita opinion issued (none / 0) (#1)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Jun 21, 2007 at 10:21:10 AM EST
    -- not good 8-1 (Souter) appellate courts may employ a presumption or reasonableness with regard to a sentence with the USSG sentencing range. does clarify that the appellate standard does not bar district courts from imposing variance sentences.

    WARNING, read the following comment at your own... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Aaron on Thu Jun 21, 2007 at 05:43:06 PM EST

    DISCLAIMER: the following is in no way an endorsement of illegal actions, and is intended for satirical and humorous purposes only, and in no way reflects the views of the law-abiding attorneys who run this site.  

    If the federal government is going to strip students of their federal loan assistance for marijuana offenses, then it's only fair that they relieve them of their federal loan debt as well.  Since evil ganja is the devil's drug, rendering all who smoke it morally depraved and utterly incapable of shouldering any responsibility whatsoever, it follows logically that we allow these irredeemable criminals to defer said debt indefinitely.  Let's face it they're never going to be able to hold down a job or work in order to pay back that debt.

    That's right folks, free government sponsored education for everyone who picks up a joint and defiantly flicks the ashes in the face of the nearest police officer. Just wait until you've got that sheepskin under your belt kids, before you fill up the old Super Soaker with a few gallons of six-month old bong water, and go down to your nearest precinct house and lay waste to the place, aiming for the open mouths.

    If the cops don't immediately shoot you in the head for assaulting them with a child's red and yellow squirt gun to later claim they thought it was a AK-47, and after they've taken you out back and done a job on you with rubber hoses, tasers and attack dogs for impregnating their pretty uniforms with burnt resin residue, at least you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you won't have to pay back those Stafford loans. Though I'm not exactly sure if a drenching with bong water actually constitutes a drug crime in most districts outside of zero tolerance zones.  

    DISCLAIMER: the previous was in no way intended to endorse illegal activities, such as assaulting a police precinct with a water gun, which would be extremely ill-advised and would likely lead to your untimely death or serious injury, and assuming you survived, would quite probably lead to your conviction on a number of felony counts garnering you many years in a state prison.  It is only intended to convey my own personal contempt for the hypocrisy of the establishment and bad laws, and in no way reflects the views of the fine upstanding attorneys who run this site... as far as I know.  :-)

    perhaps a compromise (none / 0) (#3)
    by diogenes on Thu Jun 21, 2007 at 06:48:59 PM EST
    Why not have language that any student convicted of drug DEALING automatically gets his or her aid stripped?  In the world of reality, minor dealers plead to possession anyway.  Pretty much any big time dealer who rats out someone can plead down too.

    Yeah...Why? (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 08:39:01 AM EST
    Running a small business is a great learning tool for business majors.  If you ask me they should get college credit:)

    Why punish sellers more than buyers? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Yes2Truth on Thu Jun 21, 2007 at 10:29:40 PM EST

    I've never understood the logic of discriminating between sellers and buyers.

    Makes no sense.  Let's legalize freedom and begin addressing problems and challenges that will help make life better for everyone on planet Earth.

    manufacture not covered (none / 0) (#6)
    by zak on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 10:53:42 AM EST
    Just a practice note for you defense lawyers out there, if your client was growing pot, get a plea to cultivation/manufacture in lieu of possession/sale.  The restrictions on aid only apply to possession or sale, so the "manufacturer" can go to college.