Fund To Help Convicted Drug Users, Sellers 

Fund To Help Convicted Drug Users, Sellers 
Posted by FoM on April 16, 2002 at 12:28:02 PT
By Katy Devlin, For The Diamondback 
Source: Diamondback
Students who are denied federal financial aid because of drug convictions are now eligible for a scholarship created by the Drug Reform Coordination Network. The John W. Perry Fund - named after a drug activist and New York police officer killed in the terrorist attacks - is the first of its kind. It subsidizes students who are ineligible for programs like Perkins Loans, PLUS Loans and Work-Study because of a 1998 amendment to the Higher Education Act that does not allow any students convicted of illegal drug use or sale to receive funds. 
The fund will award need-based scholarships of up to $2,000. Although 46,000 prospective students throughout the United States lost aid last year because of drug convictions, only five were applicants to the university, said Bill Leith, assistant vice president for academic affairs and director of financial aid. "This whole regulation has had very little effect on our enrollment," Leith said. Fewer than six students each year have been ineligible for financial aid since the provision went into effect in 1998, Leith said. U.S. Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) sponsored the provision, but he said the bill has been misinterpreted. The amendment was intended to apply to students who are on federal aid at the time they are convicted, not to applicants, said Steve Becker, assistant to Rep. Souder. "Previous drug convictions should not disallow applicants from receiving aid," he said. "Students should lose their federal scholarships or loans if they break the law while receiving aid." Said Becker: "There are plenty of students out there who need aid, and money would be better spent going to students who aren't breaking the law," Becker said. Opponents say it is another example of unfair policies in the war on drugs. A bill introduced this legislative session by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) would repeal the amendment if approved. Frank's press secretary Peter Kovar said the amendment is inappropriate. "The bill has a disproportionate effect," Kovar said. "If you're 19 and you can't stay in school because you lose your aid, you're unlikely to go back." Universities around the country, including George Washington, American and Yale, have also endorsed resolutions to repeal the amendment. Perry was a member of the Libertarian party and an opponent of policies like the 1998 amendment. "John would be very proud to know that he could help students continue their education and make something of themselves," said his mother, Patricia Perry. Note: Scholarship would skirt statute that puts limits on financial aid. Source: Diamondback, The (MD)Author: Katy Devlin, For The Diamondback Published: April 12, 2002 Copyright: 2002 Maryland Media, Inc.Contact: commentary dbk.umd.eduWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Drug Reform Coordination Network Is Responsible for Students Losing Education? Students Take New Tack Souder's Efforts To Fight Drug Use
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