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Can a drug conviction make you ineligible for financial aid?

While receiving any type of drug conviction is never a good thing, receiving one while you are currently also receiving federal financial aid can have even more serious repercussions. Why? Many convictions for drug and other crimes can bring with them collateral consequences, which are, essentially, penalties you may face due to your actions that are civil rather than criminal in nature.

In fact, if you are a college student who is receiving financial aid and a judge or jury finds you guilty of a drug-related crime, you can anticipate having to forfeit your financial aid for a set period of time.

Drug crimes that count

Pretty much any type of drug conviction can lead to a loss of financial aid for a certain amount of time, provided authorities placed you under arrest during a time when you were already utilizing financial aid. This is an important distinction because an arrest that happens, say, during the summer months when you are not an active student typically will not make you ineligible for financial aid.

However, virtually any type of drug crime authorities arrest you for during the school year, whether it involves drug possession, drug sales, drug trafficking or what have you, will count. The exact length of time you can expect to become ineligible for aid will vary based on several circumstances.

More specifically, two main factors play a role in determining how long you will be ineligible for federal financial aid following a drug conviction. The first factor is whether you have an existing criminal record, and if so, just how serious of a record you have. The second factor is the seriousness of the drug crime for which you received a conviction. For first-time offenders, at least, a simple possession charge will typically lead to a shorter loss of financial aid eligibility than, say, a drug trafficking charge.

If you are a college student who is prone to experimenting, it is important that you recognize just how much you may be risking in doing so.

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