Pubdate: Tue, 05 Feb 2008
Source: Montana Kaimin (U of MT Edu)
Copyright: 2008 Montana Kaimin
Author: Mike Gerrity
Cited: Citizens For Responsible Crime Policy


Ever got that feeling that the feds are looking over your

Well, they could be. Right now.

All students who aspire to hold a government job in their futures need
be aware. The director of the Office of Financial Aid at the
University of Montana, Mick Hanson, said that every couple of weeks,
at least six special agents from the FBI come into the office and
check up on student records.

Primarily, these agents look to confirm information that prospective
applicants put down on their job applications and make sure their
applicants do not say anything false.

"Any time somebody is looking for a promotion in the military or a
government job, all these people need to get clear from a background
check," Hanson said.

Agents look at other things too, such as criminal backgrounds which
include drug convictions.

That means that if students who have a drug conviction lie about it in
order to keep financial aid and the FBI finds out while sifting
through legal records, it will hinder their chances of having any sort
of government employment at all.

Hanson said that a student could lie about a prior drug conviction or
another infraction if they wanted to, and keep their financial aid.

"I don't take their aid away. They get to choose to have their aid
taken away," Hanson said. "If you are going to do illicit drugs, don't
do financial aid."

But if the feds find out, you had better forget about working in

Angela Goodhope, field director for Missoula's Citizens For
Responsible Crime Policy, said she feels that it is unfortunate that
drug convictions can be factored in against somebody who either wants
government employment or to keep their financial aid. Students need
the opportunity to keep their aid in order to stay enrolled in school
and improve themselves, she said.

"The drug conviction doesn't just affect your financial aid, it
affects other aspects of your life," Goodhope said.

Hanson said he feels the policy is fair and that no students of any
particular socioeconomic background are more affected by the policy
than others.

"I've seen kids with parents in here with six figure incomes as well
as kids with parents who are on welfare," Hansen said.

The consequences of losing financial aid for a year aren't necessarily
the end of a student's college career, Hanson said.

"There's ways to repair this. We've had 12 people rehabilitating their
drug convictions," Hanson said. "Most of them did."

Goodhope said that though she's disappointed that students can be
scrutinized for a crime that she feels does no one else harm, they
must be aware of the possibility of such a policy affecting them.

"That's the world we live in, and students need be aware of the
repercussions of their actions," Goodhope said. 
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