The federal law that denies student loans and other financial assistance to students convicted of drug law offenses is on the ropes — and you can help us knock it out. Congress reformed the law last year by eliminating the retroactive part of it, but it still affects tens of thousands of students. Fortunately, the U.S. Senate committee that handles education is considering completely repealing this counterproductive law. That’s where you come in.
You might be living in a state that has a senators on the committee (check the list below), and he or she needs to hear from constituents like you that this law should be overturned. Would you please take two minutes to make a phone call to your senator’s office? Here’s what you can do.
Look at the list of states below to find your Senator. Call your Senator’s office and tell your Senator to repeal the HEA Drug Provision (talking points and background information are below). Forward this alert to your friends and family in your state.
My name is: (your name)
I live in: (the city you live in)
I am calling because I heard that the HELP Committee will soon be revising the Higher Education Act.
I urge my Senator to repeal the section of the Higher Education Act that denies student loans to people convicted of drug offenses.
This law perpetuates drug abuse by blocking access to education and economic opportunity.
Thank you very much, and I would appreciate hearing how my Senator takes action on this issue.
List of Senators
Senator Lisa Murkowki
Senator Wayne Allard
Senator Christopher Dodd
Senator Johnny Isakson
Senator Barack Obama
Senator Tom Harkin
Senator Pat Roberts
Senator Barbara Mikulski
Senator Ted Kennedy
Senator Judd Gregg
Senator Jeff Bingaman
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
Senator Richard Burr
Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator Tom Coburn
Senator Lamar Alexander
Senator Orrin Hatch
Senator Bernard Sanders
Senator Patty Murray
Senator Michael Enzi
In 1998 Congress amended the Higher Education Act (HEA) to deny financial aid to people convicted of state or federal drug offenses (in some cases temporarily, in other cases for life).
Since the law took effect in the fall of 2000, roughly 200,000 students have been denied aid. These young people, who have already been punished for their offenses, are now dropping out of school or reducing their course loads because they cannot afford the high cost of tuition.
Last year Congress limited the HEA Drug Provision to only those students convicted of a drug law offense while in college and receiving federal aid, ending the retroactive part of the law. Earlier this year the U.S House inserted a provision into legislation reauthorizing the Higher Education Act that would completely repeal the drug provision.
Senators on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee will be considering similar legislation early next week.
That legislation, however, doesn’t currently contain a repeal of the drug provision. There are negotiations behind the scenes to add it when the bill is taken up. Voters need to call their Senators on the Committee and urge them to add a full repeal of the HEA Drug Provision.
Thank you for all of your support!
Drug Policy Alliance