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Can a drug conviction impact financial aid eligibility?

When you send your son or daughter off to college, you want to feel confident that he or she will behave responsibly and avoid doing anything that could potentially land him or her in trouble. Regrettably, however, college is a time of experimentation for many young people, and when that experimentation involves drugs, the repercussions can prove considerable.

While your child could face fines, jail time and other possible penalties if authorities catch him or her using, possessing or selling drugs, your child may also lose his or her ability to receive financial aid in the wake of a drug conviction. Virtually all types of drug crimes can potentially lead to a loss of financial aid, although the amount of time your child will lose access to aid if convicted on a drug-related charge will depend on certain factors.

How long college students can lose financial aid eligibility

The amount of time your college student will become ineligible for financial aid following a drug conviction will depend on the seriousness of the drug charge and whether it is a first, second or subsequent offense. For example, students who receive a conviction for drug possession but have never had a similar conviction in the past will likely become ineligible for financial aid for a period of one year.

If, say, your child’s possession conviction is a second one, he or she will typically lose financial aid eligibility for two years, and if it is a third drug possession conviction, the loss will likely be indefinite. More serious drug-related criminal convictions, meanwhile, may lead to longer losses of financial aid eligibility, and this may hold true even if your child is a first-time offender.

Ultimately, whether your child will become ineligible for financial aid after a drug conviction will depend on when the arrest occurred. To lose eligibility, the arrest must have occurred when your college student was already a recipient of financial aid.

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