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Can drug convictions impact financial aid eligibility?

Watching a child head off to college marks a proud moment for many parents, and you probably feel, at this point, like you have done everything you could to instill morals and values in your child. Many college students, however, start to experiment with the party scene once they get out from under their parent’s roofs. Such experimentation, however, can occasionally lead to serious financial trouble.

How? Nowadays, if authorities arrest your college student on a drug-related criminal charge and that charge winds up leading to a conviction, your son or daughter may lose his or her ability to take advantage of any financial aid assistance your family worked hard to secure.

Virtually all drug convictions count

Any drug conviction, whether from the state or federal level, can potentially result in your child becoming ineligible for financial aid. This is regardless of whether your child’s offense involves drug possession, sales, distribution or what have you. The severity of the drug crime does, however, come into play when assessing just how long your college student may be ineligible for federal assistance.

If your child’s drug offense was relatively slight, and he or she does not already have a drug-related criminal record, the loss of eligibility may last just one year. More serious drug-related offenses, however, can lead to longer ineligibility periods. The same applies to having an existing criminal record when authorities make a subsequent drug arrest.

The timing of the arrest matters

While just about all drug-related criminal convictions can lead to a loss of financial aid eligibility, there is one important exception worth noting. To lose access to financial aid, your child must have been a recipient of it when law enforcement officials made the drug crime arrest. In other words, a drug arrest that occurs over, say, summer vacation should not impact federal assistance eligibility unless your child was using financial aid to attend summer classes.

Drug arrests can lead to serious repercussions during college years, and some of them are financial in nature. As the parent of a college student, make sure he or she understands what is at stake, should he or she decide to experiment like so many others in this age group often do.

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