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Can a drug conviction impact your financial aid eligibility?

As a college student facing a drug charge, whether for distribution, possession or another type of offense, you may have concerns about potentially having to go to jail. Even if you are able to avoid time behind bars, you may still face substantial fines and substance abuse treatment obligations, among other possible repercussions. You may also encounter consequences from outside the criminal justice system.

A criminal case can affect your education. For example, if you were a recipient of federal financial aid at the time law enforcement officials placed you under arrest for a drug charge, and you are convicted, you can anticipate losing your ability to utilize financial aid for a given time period.

How long might you lose access to financial aid?

Why? Typically, less serious drug convictions, such as those involving possession of a small, personal amount of drugs on your person or property, will only lead to a year-long loss of financial aid eligibility provided you do not have an existing criminal record. If you already have certain crimes on your record, however, you may lose your ability to use financial aid for two years or even longer, depending on certain details.

In some cases, you may be able to avoid losing access to financial aid by instead agreeing to participate in a specified drug rehabilitation program. Usually, however, this option is available only to first- or second-time drug offenders. If you can gain entry to such a program, you may need to successfully pass two drug tests during treatment before you can regain financial aid eligibility.

Get the advice you need

Every situation is different. There is no single answer regarding how long you will become ineligible for federal financial aid after a drug conviction. However, you may be able to get some idea of what you face by having an attorney take a careful look at the specifics of your case and, if applicable, your criminal past.

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