The majority of U.S. students, like yourself, rely on financial aid to help them through college. However, receiving a criminal conviction could force you to alter your plans. According to the U.S. Department of Education, you may have limited eligibility for student aid following a sentence.
Understanding your limitations can make it easier to apply for funding for higher education.
Can you apply for financial aid while incarcerated?
Your financial aid eligibility depends on your current institution. If held in a federal or state institution, you cannot apply for the Federal Pell Grant or federal student loans. You can, however, apply for the Federal Supplement Educational Opportunity Grant and Federal Work-Study. Unfortunately, you have a low chance of receiving the assistance. The government prioritizes FSEOGs for students who receive the Pell Grant. Additionally, you may find it impossible to perform an FWS job when incarcerated.
If you know your release date, you may want to complete the FAFSA form anyway. You can always apply and receive your award when school starts.
Can you apply for financial aid while on parole?
If parole is part of your sentencing, you may be able to apply for federal student aid. If you have an involuntary civil commitment for a sexual offense, however, you may not be able to apply for funds. In the past, drug convictions could affect your student aid. Now, you still have to answer the questions about your conviction, but it will not impact your eligibility. Forcible and nonforcible sexual offenses, however, disqualify you.
Always fill out the FASFA because you may be eligible for aid other than federal aid no matter where you are.