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Will I lose college financial aid for a criminal conviction?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Getting into college takes years of preparation. Maintaining a specific GPA in high school and securing competitive scores on standardized tests like the ACT and SAT are key components to gaining admission to college. Of course, securing entry is only the first hurdle between the average student and a college degree. They also need to pay thousands of dollars a year in tuition costs while studying so much that they probably cannot work a job.

Most students will rely on some kind of student aid. Grants, work-study programs and even scholarships help people pay for their college tuition. Many factors, aside from your income and enrollment, can affect your eligibility for student aid. Getting arrested while enrolled or while applying for school can have an impact on your chances of admission.

Will you also lose your eligibility for federal student aid because of a criminal conviction?

Federal financial aid rules have changed

Not that long ago, certain offenses, like a drug conviction, would permanently prevent you from receiving federal student aid. Thankfully, the rules about student aid are now much more lenient than they used to be.

Currently, applicants for federal aid will need to answer questions about their criminal record and incarceration status. Someone currently in state or federal custody will face significant limitations on federal student aid. However, when someone finishes their sentence and rejoins society, the limitations on their rights mostly disappear. With a few exceptions, those no longer in custody can receive federal student aid.

Convictions can have other consequences

Knowing that you can keep your student aid as long as you avoid prison might lead to an unnecessary guilty plea. It’s important to recognize that a criminal conviction of any sort could affect your involvement in college life.

Those attending school through a visa program could lose their right to continue studying in the United States. Some schools will end the enrollment of the students convicted of a crime, while others will strip someone of their private scholarships even if they still qualify for other forms of student aid. Learning about the consequences of criminal charges can help you plan an appropriate response based on your circumstances.