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Is student loan debt and marijuana use connected?

The life of a recent college graduate – or someone with outstanding student loan debt – can be stressful. Even if you are still in college, realizing you are going to have to pay back student loans can be a truly overwhelming thought.

According to a Time article, last year – on average – a student lender left college with $35,000 in loan debt.  And while leaving college with debt is not anything necessarily new, the sheer amount of debt these days is what is hurting many recent graduates and the economy as a whole.

Maybe it’s the bleakness of realizing just how much money is going to need to be paid back? Or maybe it’s the realization that the exact same education that was meant to get you ahead in life, is now holding you back from certain anticipated accomplishments, like buying a home? Whatever the frustration is, one investment firm is saying it might be the reason behind why more and more young people are using marijuana.

Marijuana use up among 18 to 25 year olds

Over the past seven years, across the U.S., marijuana use among 18 to 25 year olds is up by 4.6 percent. This increase in marijuana use comes at a time when student debt has grown to 36 percent of a household’s debt portfolio. As an example, say two people meet in college. After college, the two get married. Starting their life together, it is not uncommon for their household student loan debt total to be around $50,000 or $60,000 – or even more.

What is interesting about the increase in marijuana use among 18 to 25 year olds is that if you are caught with marijuana, it can actually make college more cost prohibitive, as those with possession charges can end up losing federal student aid. This means, the same student would need to take out even more in private student loans.

Students lose federal student aid for drug convictions

The federal student loan application is going to ask if the person applying for federal student aid has been convicted of a drug offense while receiving aid, either in the form of grants, loans or work-study. If the answer is yes, the student will need to fill out a separate workbook to see if he or she still qualifies for aid.

There are circumstances were a person can regain eligibility after a drug conviction. These tend to include passing two unannounced drug tests. However, a way to bypass this is to either avoid having the conviction in the first place by fighting back against a possession charge, or have the conviction overturned. 

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