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Can a drug conviction make you lose your financial aid?

If you are the parent of a college student, you may expect that your son or daughter will spread his or her wings and blow off some steam every now and then after leaving home to live alone for the first time. However, there is a fine line between attending a college party or two and finding yourself facing a serious drug-related criminal charge, and when the latter happens, it can present collateral consequences your son or daughter must deal with.

“Collateral consequences” are noncriminal repercussions your college student may face if he or she receives a conviction on a drug charge, and one of those collateral consequences might be a loss of student loan eligibility.

How your student can lose access to financial aid

If your child is currently receiving federal financial aid for school and he or she receives a conviction on a drug charge, it can hinder his or her ability to retain that aid for a given period. Regardless of whether the drug charge involves possession, sales, intent to sell or what have you, it can lead to a loss of financial aid, though the amount of time your child might lose it varies based upon the type of conviction received.

For example, say a court convicts your son of drug possession, but it his first time facing such an offense. In this case, he would likely only lose financial aid access for one year. If he receives a second conviction, the financial aid ineligibility period extends to two years. If the conviction involves drug sales, however, the penalties are more severe. Even first-time offenders facing this charge will lose financial aid access for two years, and if they reoffend, they can lose access indefinitely.

Ultimately, whether your college student loses financial aid following a drug conviction depends on the timing of his or her arrest. If the arrest occurred over the summer, when your student was not receiving aid, it should not impact financial aid eligibility. If, however, the arrest occurred during the school year, a conviction typically means a loss of aid for a given time.

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