Groups Seek Reform of Higher Education Act

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Drug provision of 1988 denies financial aid for college students with multiple drug convictions, past or present

Currently, if a student is convicted of possession of a controlled substance then their financial aid is suspended for one year; if convicted a second time then the suspension is two additional years; three or more times and the financial aid is withheld indefinitely.

The punishment is more severe for those caught selling drugs, with a two-year suspension on the first conviction and then a complete revocation of privileges on the second offense.

There is currently no hope for people with three or more convictions in the past who may now be doing well in life. To some, this discrimination is unacceptable. The present drug provision does allow for financial aid to be restored before the full suspension term of a first or second offense upon submission of two unscheduled drug test results or the completion of a drug treatment program.

One of the nation’s largest and most successful drug rehabilitation and education programs is Narconon Arrowhead, which uses the effective drug-free methodology developed by American author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard.

“Rewards and penalties are good when giving out taxpayers’ money,” comments Narconon Arrowhead supervisor Lucas Catton, CCDC, “but to permanently write someone off is not in anyone’s best interest. People can change, and effective rehab centers can help former addicts regain a drug-free life. These people should be eligible for college tuition assistance as long as they have no further convictions.”

The Higher Education Act is up for renewal every five years, and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce passed the renewal recently in HR 609, called the College Access & Opportunity Act, where full repeal of the drug provision was not included but an amendment now states that past convictions do not disqualify someone, only ones during the time in which they are receiving financial aid. The bill now awaits approval from the full House of Representatives.

Organizations such as the Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform and Faces and Voices of Recovery are still calling for full repeal of the drug provisions from 1988, stating that since the enactment of the amendment more than 160,000 individuals have been negatively affected by the law.

The Coalition points out that despite evidence of Americans saving $7 for every $1 spent on treatment, less than 15% of the national drug control budget is spent on rehabilitation services. Also mentioned is that alcohol abuse is the number one drug problem on college campuses, yet alcohol-related crimes are not included in the language of the bill.

To find out more about the Higher Education Act, track the progress of HR 609 or any legislation filed or enacted, visit the Library of Congress website at

To find out more information about helping someone overcome addiction through successful rehabilitation, contact Narconon Arrowhead today at 1-800-468-6933 or visit

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Luke Catton
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