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Will a drug conviction disqualify me for student aid?

If you are applying for or receiving federal student aid -- such as work-study, loans and grants -- your eligibility for this aid could be suspended after a drug conviction. However, this suspension will probably not be permanent.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form asks if you have a drug conviction on your record. When you answer yes, you will need to complete a worksheet that determines whether or not you are eligible for student aid.

If you are ineligible, you may still be able to get student aid at a later time if you complete an approved substance rehab program and pass two unannounced drug exams. If you have re-established eligibility, and it is still the award year, you may be able to receive the aid for which you previously qualified.

Anyone convicted of a drug offense must be careful when applying for and receiving student aid. The more truthful you are the better. If you receive student aid by submitting a false FAFSA form, or if you fail to report a drug crimes conviction after you submit your FAFSA form, you could be liable to pay back the financial aid that you received while you were ineligible.

Even a relatively minor drug charge could negatively change the course of your education, life and career for many years to come. As such, it is important to handle your criminal defense proceedings strategically. In some cases, accused individuals may be able to successfully refute the charges being brought against them to achieve a verdict of not guilty. In other cases, accused persons may be able to reach a plea bargain that involves a reduced punishment.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, "Students with criminal convictions have limited eligibility for federal student aid.," accessed May 03, 2018

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