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Can your child lose financial aid because of a drug conviction?

College is a time for growing and developing, and many college students make at least a few mistakes somewhere along the path toward a degree. While some mistakes are relatively minor, meaning they are unlikely to amount to more than a simple slap on the wrist, others can take a more serious toll, and facing drug charges can fall into the latter category.

While a drug conviction can lead to jail time, steep fines, community service and related penalties, your child may also face collateral consequences, or penalties that do not come directly from the criminal justice system. One such penalty involves potentially losing his or her access to federal financial aid.

How drug convictions impact student loans

If your college student receives a conviction for selling, possessing or conspiring to sell drugs, know that this might make him or her ineligible from receiving financial aid for a certain amount of time. The length of the ineligibility period will vary based on factors like whether your child has an existing criminal history, but it may prove to be a year, two years or even longer.

For your child to lose his or her ability to secure financial aid, the offense the conviction was for generally must have taken place during a time when he or she was currently receiving financial assistance. For example, if law enforcement catches your child with drugs at, say, a college Halloween party, it could be likely he or she will ultimately have to forfeit financial aid. If, however, authorities bust your child over the July 4 weekend, and he or she is not currently receiving financial aid for classes or summer school, a conviction might not impact student loan eligibility.

Whether your son or daughter would lose his or her ability to retain federal financial aid if given a drug conviction will vary based on several factors. This is among the many reasons why, when drug charges are leveled against a college student, the specifics of the situation matter greatly.

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Knoxville, TN 37902

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