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The HEA Drug Provision

Students Denied Federal Aid for Drug Violations: Damaging the future of our youth

ISSUE: A 1998 revision to the Higher Education Act (HEA) included a new provision that blocks college opportunities to students revealing drug convictions on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The drug provision denies an education to someone with a prior drug conviction. Rather than making it easier for people to obtain a good education, the HEA revision now makes it more difficult. People of color are most commonly denied federal aid, since they are more likely to be convicted for drug offenses than those who are white.

BACKGROUND: The HEA was signed into law over three decades ago by President Lyndon Johnson to establish federal financial aid programs, which give more students an opportunity to get a college education. In 1998, during a periodic reauthorization of the HEA, the drug provision denying federal aid to those with a prior drug conviction was quietly added in a Congressional committee. Making education less accessible should not be the role of the government. The Higher Education Act must be restored to reflect President Johnson's vision of providing students with financial assistance in order to obtain a valuable college education.

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The RAVE Act

Dangerous Drug War Bill: The aftermath

ISSUE: The RAVE Act (The Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act) became law in 2003. The RAVE Act makes property owners criminally responsible for drug use occurring at their events. Although the language of the bill specifically targets raves, opponents have feared the bill's broad language, arguing that it could be construed to apply to events like picnics and neighborhood barbecues, and that it would interfere with the freedom of young people to peacefully assemble and express themselves through dance and music. Opponents also worried that the RAVE Act would jeopardize on-call medical staff, cool down rooms and other precautionary measures that are available at large events to respond to drug overdose, since event organizers would not want to appear to be accommodating of illegal drug use on their property.

The Drug Policy Alliance is investigating the implementation of the RAVE Act. For more information on the RAVE Act and its effects, please visit the Drug Policy Alliance.

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