Joseph J. Colarusso, Attorney at Law
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Can you lose financial aid because of a drug conviction?

If you are the proud parent of a Connecticut graduate who has plans to head off to college in the fall, you may be spending the summer preparing your son or daughter for life on his or her own. Many first-time college students experiment a bit after getting a taste of newfound freedom, but when those experimentations involve illegal drugs, it can mean the end of his or her ability to receive financial aid.

Yes, your college student can, per U.S. News & World Report, lose his or her access to financial aid if he or she receives a drug conviction. However, whether he or she ultimately will lose access to federal assistance depends on when authorities placed your child under arrest. If your child is arrested during a time when he or she is actively receiving and using federal aid, such as in the middle of fall semester, you can anticipate a loss of financial aid access for a set period of time. If, however, authorities place your child under arrest during a time he or she is not accepting aid, such as over summer break, a subsequent conviction typically will not affect financial aid eligibility.

As far as what types of drug convictions can lead to a loss of federal aid eligibility, know that virtually all drug convictions count. However, more serious drug convictions, such as those involving the sale of illegal drugs, typically lead to a longer period of ineligibility than lesser drug crimes, such as possession convictions.

While more serious drug crimes tend to lead to longer periods of financial aid ineligibility, so, too, do repeat offenses. For example, if your student receives a conviction for drug possession, and it is his or her second conviction of this type, he or she will likely face an additional year of financial aid ineligibility on top of the one year that most first-time offenders face.

While this information about the link between drug convictions and financial aid eligibility is informative in nature, it does not constitute legal advice.


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