#323 United States Students Score

Date: Tue, 7 Feb 2006
Subject: #323 United States Students Score

UNITED STATES STUDENTS SCORE

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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #323 – Tuesday, 7 February 2006

First it was a superb editorial in the New York Times Saturday “The
High Cost of Public Information” http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v06/n142/a05.html

Today it was a feature article in USA TODAY “College Financial Aid
Rules Loosened” http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v06/n161/a05.html

What’s the fuss about?

In 1998 Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) http://www.daregeneration.com
was organized to oppose a little known provision of the Higher
Education Act (HEA). College students with drug convictions were
blocked from receiving federal financial aid. The drug provision was
slipped into the 257-page HEA reauthorization bill without debate or a
recorded vote.

After organizing campus chapters across the country, and years of
lobbying, a bill is on it’s way to the President that sharply limits
the drug conviction provision. Instead of applying to all past
convictions, the law will, as the USA TODAY article says, change the
standards: “But students convicted of a drug felony or misdemeanor in
college will still be disqualified from receiving federal aid for at
least one year.”

This is only a partial victory. Students who are convicted of other
serious felonies or misdemeanors have always been eligible for federal
financial aid. And students with the financial ability to attend
college without federal financial aid are not punished by the HEA provisions.

Letters to the Editor now can help move this issue forward. Your local
newspapers are good targets. So are your local college or university
newspapers.

Newspaper contacts for LTEs may be found by using the MAP media page
at http://www.mapinc.org/media.htm Use the “List by Area” dropdown to
select a state. Look for Edu following the newspaper title to identify
college papers.

If possible, try working a link to SSDP into your letters. The shorter
URL http://www.ssdp.org/ may find print more easily.

For college papers, it never hurts to add a tie, if you have one, to
the college after your signature block. Tell the paper if you are a
former student, or if you have a friend or relative attending, for
example.

As the sidebar in the USA TODAY article says, many states or specific
institutions of higher education also limit state and other financial
aid based on drug convictions. Addressing these issues in your letters
will be helpful as few are even aware of these additional limits on
financial aid. Please see the Coalition for Higher Education Act
Reform website http://www.raiseyourvoice.com/ for more
information.

Other LTE targets may be found at http://www.mapinc.org/hea.htm

Thanks for your effort and support.

It’s not what others do — It’s what YOU do

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Additional suggestions for writing LTEs are at our Media Activism Center:

http://www.mapinc.org/resource/#guides

Or contact MAP Media Activism Facilitator Steve Heath for personal
tips on how to write LTEs that get printed.

heath@mapinc.org

You are welcome to join Steve and other LTE writing friends of MAP
every Tuesday and Thursday evening at 9 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Central,
7 p.m. Mountain and 6 p.m. Pacific time for a roundtable discussion of
how to write LTEs that are printed.

See: http://mapinc.org/resource/paltalk.htm for details on how you
can participate in this important meeting of leading minds in
reform. Discussion is conducted with live Voice (microphone and
speakers all that is needed) and also via text messaging.
The Paltalk software is free and easy to download and install.

The password for these gatherings is: welcome-pal (all lower
case)

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PLEASE SEND US COPIES OF YOUR LETTERS

Please post a copy of your letter or report your action to the sent
letter list (sentlte@mapinc.org) if you are subscribed, or by
E-mailing a copy directly to heath@mapinc.org if you are not
subscribed. Your letter will then be forwarded to the list so others
can learn from your efforts.

Subscribing to the Sent LTE list (sentlte@mapinc.org) will help you to
review other sent LTEs and perhaps come up with new ideas or
approaches as well as keeping others aware of your important writing
efforts.

To subscribe to the Sent LTE mailing list see

http://www.mapinc.org/lists/index.htm#form

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Prepared by: Richard Lake, Sr. Editor, http://www.drugnews.org =.