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Opinion On And Explanation of the Higher Education Act

The Higher Education Act (HEA), signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, was designed to help families send their children to college. In 1998, Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) introduced a provision, which banned federal aid for students who had been convicted of drug-related crimes. This provision applied even to misdemeanors and violations, not just felonies.

In essence, the HEA provision did nothing to help disadvantaged students struggling with substance abuse problems, but it did impede access to education for the poor and minorities, those already at risk of being shoved to the periphery of society.

H.R. 685, introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), would repeal this provision to allow anyone to apply for financial aid. The exception is any student charged with a drug related offence while in school. This would effectively make any prior, legal encounters with the authorities irrelevant to the financial aid process that most students go through in order to receive money for college.

Please sign a petition urging your representatives to support bill H.R. 685.

Those convicted under the current drug laws should not have to suffer further consequences as a result of their convictions.

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