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Losing Financial Aid Because of Marijuana Possession

Financial aid is money that is given to millions of individuals to help pay for college. This money may be provided by the school, the state, the federal government, or a nonprofit organization. Regarding the federal government, the U.S. Department of Education awards over $120 billion in financial aid to over 12 million students. The money is used to pay for tuition, books, room and board, travel, and other expenses. Often, receiving financial aid is done through a process known as a FAFSA application. After review of the application, if all goes well, financial aid is awarded to the applicant.

As someone who was once a recipient of federal financial aid, I decided to do a little research on the specifics of financial aid. I wanted to see some of the more common ways financial aid could be denied after applying. I was astounded to find out that during my research, I came across an article that explained that even marijuana possession charges (requiring a certain amount of marijuana possession) could supply as grounds for denying financial aid. A minor charge like this could change a student’s life forever.

The article written by James Powderly explained that even minor marijuana possession charges could lead to severe consequences, including the denial of financial aid. In addition to financial aid, a marijuana possession charge could serve as grounds for denial of employment benefits, public housing, or even the right to operate a motor vehicle.  However, the article did express a positive sentiment: these benefits, including financial aid, cannot be denied if the marijuana possession is small. For example, a marijuana possession charge of possessing one ounce or less of marijuana cannot warrant denial of financial aid.

I was encouraged by these final words provided in the article. It seems very unjust, unreasonable, and overall unacceptable to deny financial aid only because of a small marijuana possession charge. Millions of students rely on financial aid to expand their knowledge and receive a quality education. With this knowledge and training, financial aid recipients intend to use the skills and things they learned in school to go on to do great things for society. For instance, many recipients of financial aid will go on to be great lawyers, doctors, scientists, engineers, or savvy business minds. It would be heartbreaking to hear that these paths were closed merely because an individual had one ounce of marijuana in their possession. I was pleased to read this article and see that these benefits could not be stripped away on these grounds.

My advice to any current or future recipients of financial aid would be to initially do extensive research to understand what could result in denial of financial aid. After this research, understand and follow what you have learned. You do not want your path to excellence to be derailed because of something like a marijuana possession charge.

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