Drug act affects grant recipients

By Bill Schwingel

Pell Grant recipients convicted of possessing or distributing controlled substances could have their financial aid suspended in the 1989-90 school year, according to the Drug-Free Workplace Act.

On Nov. 18, then-President Ronald Reagan enacted the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, which includes the Drug-Free Workplace Act, Title V-D, according to a letter from the U.S. Department of Education.

The letter was sent by William Moran, acting director for Student Financial Assistance Programs, and Dewey Newman, deputy assistant secretary for Student Financial Assistance Programs.

The Drug-Free Workplace Act includes students receiving aid from campus-based programs, said NIU Financial Aid Director Jerry Augsburger. This includes the Perkins Loan, College Work-Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant programs.

Augsburger recently received the letter describing the details of the new act and its effects on students receiving Pell Grants.

“The idea of a drug-free society is certainly a laudable one,” he said. “To whatever degree, this kind of legislation moves us toward a drug-free society … yes, this is a good idea.”

The letter states students receiving Pell Grants must certify that they will not “manufacture, distribute, dispense, possess or use” any controlled substances while they receive financial aid from the grant.

A Pell Grant recipient found guilty of possessing controlled substances will not be eligible for financial aid for two years, Augsburger said.

A grant recipient convicted of dealing drugs will not be eligible to receive financial aid for five years, he said. Anyone convicted of dealing drugs more than three times will become permanently ineligible to receive financial aid, he said.

Those grants given by an institution have a warning stating the consequence of not following the Drug-Free Workplace Act, the letter states.

A student found to have purposely falsified their Pell Grant form could be sent to jail for five years or pay a fine of up to $10,000, Augsburger said.

The certification promising the student will not be involved with controlled substances was added to Pell Grant forms March 18.

Students who already have sent Pell Grant forms to institutions must obtain a certification from that institution before they can receive aid.