FAFSA drug policy not fair

By Shaleen Aghi

Any student who has filled out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) can tell you that Question 31 asks whether you have ever been convicted of a drug crime.

Why?

Well, those who answer yes for such a conviction – including possession of small amounts of marijuana – are automatically stripped of their financial aid while murderers and rapists are perfectly eligible to get government loans and grants.

If you’re as outraged as I am over this harmful and unfair penalty that has already affected 200,000 students, you’ll be glad to learn that Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is currently in a key position to do something about it.

Sen. Obama and other members of the Senate committee that handles higher education are debating what to do about the aid elimination penalty this week.

If you agree (and even if you disagree) that kicking students out of school causes more – not fewer – drug problems, why not take two minutes today to tell Sen. Obama (202-224-2854) how you feel?

Politely tell the staffer who answers the phone that as a constituent you want the senator to overturn the student aid drug penalty because it causes more drug abuse.

As students, this policy is directed at us and our peers.

If we don’t ask our legislators to do the right thing, who will?

You can follow up this story at http://www.schoolsnotprisons.org.

Shaleen Aghi

graduate Student