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Can a drug conviction impact financial aid eligibility?

As the parent of a Pennsylvania college student, you probably gave your child some words of wisdom before he or she left the nest, but how confident are you that your child will heed that advice? For many students, college is a time of experimentation, but in some cases, experimenting can lead to unanticipated – and highly serious – repercussions.

For example, if authorities arrest and convict your child on a drug-related criminal charge, your child may face fines, possible jail time and other sanctions, but he or she may, too, have to deal with collateral consequences. Collateral consequences are repercussions for his or her actions that do not come straight from the court system, and one such consequence of a drug conviction can be a loss of financial aid eligibility.

Offenses that can lead to financial aid ineligibility

While virtually every type of drug conviction can potentially lead to a loss of financial aid, just how long you can expect your child to have to go without it will depend on several additional factors. For example, if your son or daughter is a first-time offender, and he or she receives a conviction for, say, a simple possession charge, he or she would probably only lose access to federal aid for one year. If, however, your child is a repeat offender, or if he or she receives a conviction for a far more serious drug crime, such as one that involves drug manufacturing or drug sales, your student may lose financial aid indefinitely.

The timing of the arrest matters

To lose financial aid eligibility, your child’s drug-related arrest must have happened during a time period when he or she was already receiving financial aid, such as in the middle of the school year. Arrests made in the summer months typically do not count, unless your child is using federal aid to pay for summer classes.

In summary, a drug conviction can be a costly mistake, and it can affect more than just your child’s criminal record. The more you talk to your child about the possible consequences of his or her actions, the less likely he or she may be to wind up in trouble.

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