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Your educational future after a criminal conviction

Whether you were a straight-A student or just getting by, you probably understood the importance of finishing college and getting that degree. People with college degrees have a substantially higher chance of getting a job. In the field you've chosen, the competition may be tight, and that degree will make all the difference.

However, you had to put all your plans on hold after your arrest for a drug-related crime. In addition to sanctions the university issued, you are now facing criminal charges that could ruin any chances you had for reaching your goals.

Limitations on financial aid

If the court convicts you of this crime, you may face jail time, fines or probation. In addition, the conviction may remain on your record for decades, making it difficult for you to find any work at all, let alone landing your dream job.

However, before you even think about getting a job, you have to finish school. This means considering the impact a criminal conviction will have on your financial aid status. If you are convicted and sentenced to a state or federal institution, you can expect the following limitations on federal financial aid:

  • The office of Federal Student Aid will suspend any federal student aid you are currently receiving.
  • You will be ineligible for Pell Grants or student loans.
  • Because priority for Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants goes to those who also receive Pell Grants, Federal Student Aid may also deny you this funding.
  • Federal Student Aid will probably deny your application for Federal Work-Study because you will likely be unable to fulfill the duties of a FWS job while incarcerated.

If a conviction results in your incarceration in an institution at a level other than state or federal, you cannot get federal loans, but you may be eligible for a Pell Grant. Other types of aid will be more difficult for you to get.

Drug or sex crimes

If your arrest was because of a drug or sexual offense, your educational future may be in serious jeopardy. For example, some sex convictions may disqualify you from receiving Pell Grants indefinitely.

If the court incarcerates you for drug-related crimes while you are receiving financial aid, you may be required to return any aid you receive while you are ineligible. In addition, in order to qualify for federal aid after your release from prison, you may have to complete a drug rehabilitation program and submit to a series of random drug tests.

Protecting your opportunities

The nature of your crime and the outcome of your case can severely impact your prospects. If you have definite goals in mind for your future, you may be fearful of watching them slip away because of this one mistake.

Having a lawyer on your side will benefit you in many ways. Your attorney will help you understand the nature of the charges against you and decide on the best course of action to defend you. With a strong advocate, your chances of a more positive outcome and a brighter future may improve.

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