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April 18, 2024

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    “gAyPRIL” (Gay-April) continues on Falcon Radio, sharing a playlist curated by the Queer Trans Student Union, sharing songs celebrating the LGBTQ+ experience. In similar vein, you will enjoy Jeanette Winterson’s books if you find yourself interested in LGBTQ+ voices and nonlinear narratives. As “dead week” is upon us, students, we can utilize resources such as Falcon […]
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    As we enter into the poetics of April, also known as national poetry month, here are four voices from well to lesser known. The Tradition – Jericho Brown Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Brown visited the last American Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP 2024) conference, and I loved his speech and humor. Besides […]
Spring Housing Guide

FAFSA takes a needed chance on lawbreakers

Thousands of students who are caught possessing or selling drugs have lost their financial aid – but this may all change soon since Congress just recently reformed the law that strips aid to students with drug convictions.

The Higher Education Act Drug Provision allows more students with past offenses to receive aid, which President Bush is expected to sign into law. But, lawbreakers who were enrolled in school and getting taxpayer support at the time when they were convicted can’t apply for aid. The change is expected to benefit mostly older students.

‘Students still deserve aid regardless of past mistakes they have made,’ Tommy Yankle said, a senior who has a possession charge on his record and doesn’t receive FAFSA. ‘Everybody deserves a second chance.’

But, Rachel Robinson, FAFSA representative, said everybody does get a second chance despite the common misconception.

‘Just because you are convicted of possession or selling illegal drugs does not mean that you are completely ineligible,’ Robinson said. ‘You can have had 10 trafficking charges and still be eligible – as long as you go through a drug rehab program.’

Even if a potential student decides not to go through a lengthy drug rehab program they are still eligible for aid – they just might have to wait a while longer to receive that aid.

For someone who is convicted of one possession is suspended from aid for one year, two possessions – two years. But if a student has more than two possessions then it is required for them to seek drug rehab if they ever want financial aid. For trafficking the time limits on suspensions of aid are doubled. Critics of this policy, including Kris Krane, director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, feel making students wait for aid will just decrease the chances that these students will ever make it to college and lead productive lives.

‘Many of these potential students will never come back after this one year waiting period,’ Krane said. ‘ If a student is busted with drugs they are already being punished in the criminal justice system. It’s not fair to punish them a second time – that’s double jeopardy.’

While federal aid may be denied to these drug offenders state and college aid may still be available. During the 2004-2005 school year at BGSU 16,822 students received some sort of financial aid – of which 43.8 percent was federal loans.

Federal aid is not the last option for aid but most colleges and state aid programs look at the FAFSA forms when determining eligibility.

Craig Cornell, director of financial aid at the University, said that these FAFSA forms are for the most part the deciding factor when granting aid.

‘The rules on the federal government are pretty clear on which students we approve for aid,’ Cornell said. ‘If the federal government deems a student eligible to receive aid then we process this through.’

This FAFSA form colleges and states financial aid see has the drug conviction question in which students are asked to explain past drug convictions. If a student answers yes to question 31 regarding past drug convictions then a drug conviction worksheet must be filled out to determine a student’s eligibility.

In January 2005, the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance recommended that the drug conviction question be completely removed from the financial aid applications, calling it ‘irrelevant’ to aid eligibility.

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