Pubdate: Fri, 13 Apr 2007
Source: Portage Daily Register (WI)
Copyright: 2007 Portage Daily Register
Author: Craig Sauer, Daily Register
Cited: AB151
Cited: Rep. Eugene Hahn
Cited: Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Bookmark: (Higher Education Act)
Bookmark: (Students - United States)
Bookmark: (Students for Sensible Drug Policy)


Convicted drug dealers should not be eligible to receive student 
financial aid from the state, according to state Rep. Eugene Hahn, 
R-Cambria, who sponsored a bill being considered by the Assembly 
Committee on Colleges and Universities this week.

The bill, which mirrors a federal law on federal aid, would prevent a 
college student convicted of possessing drugs with the intent to sell 
ineligible for state, loan or work assistance. The restriction would 
be lifted after a two-year suspension or if the student completes a 
drug rehabilitation program.

"There isn't enough money to give every student that applies for 
grants or loans," Hahn said. "When you break the law, you should let 
somebody else get the aid."

Assembly Bill 151 will need to be approved by the Colleges and 
Universities Committee before it moves to the full Assembly.

A version of the bill introduced by Hahn passed the Assembly last 
session but fizzled in the Senate when it was never scheduled for a vote.

Opponents of the state bill, who also appose the federal law, said 
rules preventing students from obtaining easier access to higher 
education are unfair and do more harm than good.

Tom Angell, government relations director for Students for 
Responsible Drug Policy in Washington, D.C., said it doesn't make 
sense to pull students out of school to reduce drug abuse.

"By kicking the student out of school you are dooming them to a life 
of failure in many cases," Angell said. "It is common sense that 
blocking access to education causes more drug abuse."

The Students for Responsible Drug Policy and a number of other groups 
successfully lobbied Congress to restructure the federal law last 
year, eliminating what Angell called the "reach-back effect." 
Previously, students with a conviction on their record were rendered 
ineligible no matter when that conviction occurred. Now, students 
seeking aid are only ineligible if the conviction occurs during a 
period of enrollment.

Angell said he is optimistic the law can be fully repealed by the new 
Democratic majority in Congress.

According to a September 2005 report by the U.S. Government 
Accountability Office, during the 2003-2004 academic year, about 
41,000 applicants (0.3 percent of all applicants) were disqualified 
from receiving college education loans and grants because of drug convictions.

Students with convictions are identified by their answers to a 
question on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form -- 
meaning students can potentially answer the question dishonestly and 
receive aid.

"This reasonable measure will allow our state to have some oversight 
over the millions of state taxpayer dollars we send to students every 
year," Hahn said.

Wisconsin gave almost $90 million in state aid to students in 2005-2006. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake