Pubdate: Tues, 11 Jan 2000
Source: Daily News of Los Angeles (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Daily News of Los Angeles
Address: P.O. Box 4200, Woodland Hills, CA 91365
Fax: (818)713-3723
Author: James H. Gutzman


I received my renewal FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) in
the mail this week. I only had to update last year's information and answer
a couple of new questions. It seemed simple enough. I flew through the first
27 questions like it was one of my Spanish textbooks: half skimming, half
daydreaming, but I was certain that I was doing it correctly.

I jumped to Question 28: "Drug Conviction Eligibility?" Ehhh? Drug
conviction eligibility? It seems that our federal student aid programs have
decided to make our student loans contingent on our lack of convictions.

I deftly looked for the related questions. "Armed Robbery Conviction
Eligibility?" "Rape Conviction Eligibility?" "First Degree Murder Conviction
Eligibility?" The government seems to have forgotten these subsequent
questions. Drugs seem to just edge out murder on the conviction scale of

Our federal government seeks to keep individuals with drug convictions out
of our colleges and universities. How does the government expect these
people to turn their lives around if they close off higher education?

For what effect could they have possibly been hoping?

I've left Question 28 blank for now. I'm not quite sure how I'll answer it.
I am glad that the federal government decided not to actually look up the
convictions, but put the answer on the honor system. I am not too distraught
over lying about my drug convictions. I am just thankful they left out that
question about murder.

- -- James H. Gutzman, Northridge
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