1998, Congress enacted an amendment to the Higher Education
Act that denies loans, grants, even work study jobs to
tens of thousands of would-be students every year who
have drug convictions. All these young people, who have
already been punished once for their offenses, are being
forced to spend more time working to pay for school, reducing
their course loads or dropping out of school entirely.
response to this situation, the DRCNet (Drug Reform Coordination
Network) Foundation, in association with Students for
Sensible Drug Policy and other friends of civil liberties,
has created the John W. Perry Fund. By providing assistance
to a few of the people who have lost aid under this law,
the Perry Fund makes a statement
to build opposition to the law among the public
and in Congress and let thousands of young people around
the country know about the campaign to repeal it.
will receive scholarships?
John W. Perry Fund awards scholarships of up to $2,000 per semester
to students affected by the HEA drug provision (also known as the "Aid Elimination Penalty"), who have
the greatest financial need (educational expenses less
other available resources), but also for whom our assistance
will be most likely to be effective in enabling them to
both attend and succeed in school. Applicants have
the option to spend scholarship funds on drug treatment
programs to restore their eligibility for federal aid;
however, applicants are encouraged to use this option
only if they have an actual substance abuse problem.
government's own financial aid worksheet (e.g. the FAFSA) is one
tool used to assess an applicant's need, but the fund
also considers individual circumstances and experiences
that may have placed especially great obstacles in the
way of a given student's ability to pursue higher education
(e.g., socioeconomic disadvantage, physical or learning
disability, incarceration, drug addiction, etc.).
than 200,000 students or would-be students have officially
been denied aid since the drug provision was enacted,
plus an unknown number who didn't apply because they rightly
or wrongly believed they were ineligible. Aid denied annually
is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Thgouh the Perry Fund can directly help
only a small fraction of the students affected by this law, the
Fund is also a strategic component of a larger
plan to raise awareness and help students until the law
to apply for a scholarship
fund may share applicants' info (with permission) with
scholarship providers and community foundations to turn
our handful of awards into many more.
fund makes the campaign to repeal the HEA drug provision
known to students around the country
who have been harmed by the drug war. (Participation
in the advocacy campaign s not be a condition of,
nor an advantage in applying for a scholarship, but
some applicants and awardees have gotten involved, some
as much-needed spokespersons in the media campaign.)
fund lets interested students know how to form Students
for Sensible Drug Policy chapters to work on this and
other drug war issues.
still have money to give away for the 2008-2009 school year --
definitely for the spring, possible for the fall if you are in
school but have special circumstances that are making things difficult.
Please contact us and apply as soon as possible.
apply for a Perry Fund scholarship, first fill out our
line pre-application form online. Then, download an application
in PDF format, or contact us at [email protected]
or (202) 362-0030 if you need a copy by mail or fax. Next,
fill out the Drug Conviction Worksheet.
also recommend (but do not require) that you fill out
federal financial aid application and send us a copy,
and we request that you send us a copy of your SAR or FAFSA student
aid report if the Dept. of Education sent you one. We
will begin to process your application without these documents,
but may have to contact you for additional financial information.
your completed application with the Drug Question Worksheet
output to: The John W. Perry Fund, c/o DRCNet Foundation,
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20009.
You may also e-mail the requested information to [email protected]
or fax your application to (202) 362-0032. If you're not
sure of the answers to all of the questions on our application,
send in what you can now, and add the rest as soon as
also accept correspondence and applications directly from
financial aid officers, parents and other advisors as
well as from students.
does this law actually say?
484, subsection r of the Higher Education Act of 1998
(HEA) delays or denies federal student financial aid eligibility
to applicants with any misdemeanor or felony drug conviction.
Applicants with a single possession conviction lose eligibility
for one year from conviction date; those with a second
possession conviction or one sales conviction lose eligibility
for two years; and three possession convictions or two
sales convictions cost an applicant eligibility indefinitely.
In early 2006 the law was scaled back to be limited to offenses
committed while a student is enrolled in college and receiving federal Title IV aid.
enrolling in an approved drug treatment program can regain
eligibility upon completing it. However, the measure neither
provides funds for these generally expensive programs,
nor distinguishes between mere use and true substance
abuse. (Legislation passed by Congress in 2008 should now allow students
to regain aid by taking two unannounced drug tests administered by a
treatment program.) Would-be students who merely experimented with
marijuana, for example, might be unable to find a program
willing to accept them; or instead, might take up scarce
slots needed by actual addicts seeking help.
can you help?
can help by making a generous contribution to the DRCNet
Foundation for the John W. Perry Scholarship Fund, by
letting would-be students affected by the drug provision
know about the fund and helping them aplly, and by getting
involved in the campaign to repeal the drug provision
once and for all.
John W. Perry Fund is now accepting applications. The fund gratefully
accepts contributions of any size, large or small. Checks
should be made payable to DRCNet Foundation, with "scholarship
fund" or "John W. Perry Fund" written in
the memo or accompanying letter. The DRCNet Foundation
is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity, and your contribution
will be tax-deductible as provided by law. Our mailing
address is: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036.
Please let us know if we may list your name or organization
as a contributor in our publicity materials.
can also help by joining the campaign to repeal the HEA
drug provision and restoring financial aid to all the
tens of thousands of students affected by this law every
year, or by starting a Students for Sensible Drug Policy
chapter to work on HEA and other drug war issues.
for further information.
William Perry was a New York City police officer and a
Libertarian Party and ACLU activist who spoke out against
the "war on drugs." He was also a lawyer, athlete,
actor, linguist and humanitarian. On the morning of September
11, John Perry was at One Police Plaza in lower Manhattan
filing retirement papers when the first plane hit the
World Trade Center. Without hesitation he went to help,
losing his life rescuing others. This scholarship program,
which addresses a drug war injustice, is dedicated to
his memory. John Perry's academic achievements are also
an inspiring example for students: He was fluent in several
languages, graduated from NYU Law School and prosecuted
NYPD misconduct cases for the department.