Just Say No

Drug convictions mean no aid for 2,500 Minnesotans

Today's Slate has a funny little piece on some recently produced statistics on the 8-year old federal law that bars anyone with a drug conviction from obtaining financial aid.

In 1998, Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., an advocate of stringent drug laws, slipped into a House bill an amendment denying federal financial aid for college to anyone who had been convicted of either selling or possessing drugs. No congressional committee voted on the amendment. But it passed as part of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, first enacted in 1965 to create federal financial aid for college students.

According to statistics appended to the article, would-be Minnesota students are denied aid at a lower rate than their brethren in other states, but plenty are still losing out. The biggest losers? Students in Souder's Indiana: "As of August 2005, nearly 9,000 Indianan students--one in 200--have been denied aid since the law passed. That's the highest proportion of students affected in any state by a wide margin."

The article includes an interesting aside on the likelihood that anyone with a state-court conviction will get caught if they lie on their aid application form. "A word to the wise, and the not-so-wise: You may want to just check 'no.'"

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