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Another Danger of Drugs: Loss of Student Loans


What a bummer: Get busted for smoking pot . . . and lose your student loan.

Under legislation passed by the House of Representatives, any student convicted of possession or sale of an illegal drug would no longer be eligible for any federal grant, loan or work study money.

First-time offenders merely caught using drugs would lose their aid for a year, second-timers would lose their aid for two years. Those convicted of dealing drugs would face a two-year suspension after the first offense and be banned for life for a second one.

NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, expects the restrictions, which were tacked on to the Higher Education Reauthorization Act, to become law before the end of the year. It comes before the Senate this week.

"From what the Democrats are telling me, there's no way to get it out of there," said Keith Stroup, NORML's executive director. "This has come up before, but usually it gets weeded out."

Stroup objects to the legislation because it singles out nonviolent drug offenses for harsh penalties. "If a student is falling-down drunk and drives, no problem," he said. "If a student commits a violent crime, no problem. But if students get arrested for a joint, they lose their student aid."

Chancellor Offers a Piercing Analysis of Steps to Success

Charles Reed has several sets of caps and gowns in his closet, the sign of someone who knows college commencements. He's heard both kinds of speeches: the good ones and the long ones. So when Reed, the new chancellor of the California State University system, recently addressed Cal Poly Pomona's graduating class, he boiled down his comments to this advice for success after college:

1--Don't forget to call home every week.

2--Continue to read good books.

3--Don't pay off your MasterCard with your Visa card.

4--Check the bag before you leave the drive-through window.

5--Don't pierce any body part you can't hide in a job interview.

"If you follow this five-point plan," he told the 1,300 students, "you'll do OK."

INS Eases Work Rules for Students From 5 Asian Countries

Trying to help foreign students from five Asian nations that are in economic turmoil, the INS has decided to allow them to work full time in America so they can afford to stay in school.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service has temporarily lifted restrictions on visas that have prevented foreign students from working more than 20 hours a week.

In addition, students from Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines will be able to cut back on classes--effectively becoming half-time students--until their financial troubles are over.

The modification of conditions covering foreign student visas is part of an overall U.S. effort to mitigate the impact of the Asian economic crisis, INS officials said.

About 80,000 students from the five countries were enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities during the academic year that just ended. These students have become an important source of revenue for universities because they usually pay full tuition and fees--which become hard to pay when their families' livelihoods are in jeopardy in their home countries.

USC's Office of International Services is holding a series of workshops to help the affected students fill out the paperwork for what is essentially a green card.

Executive Director Dixon C. Johnson expects the school's international office to be inundated by students who want to sign up for the program. USC enrolled 979 students from the five countries this year.

For some students, though, Johnson expects it will be too late. "We strongly suspect that a number of those students who went home for the summer will not be coming back in the fall."

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