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Can you lose financial aid because of a drug conviction?

If you or one of your children is facing a drug conviction, you undoubtedly have concerns about what penalties you or your son or daughter could potentially face, and how a conviction can impact you or your child’s lives. While the answers to such questions vary broadly from one person to the next based on, among other factors, whether you have an existing criminal history, you may also face collateral consequences, if arrested.

Collateral consequences are penalties or punishments you may face because of your crime that are not necessarily coming from the criminal justice system, and one collateral consequence of your drug conviction can involve losing your access to financial aid.

Convictions that impact student loan eligibility

If convicted of a state or federal drug offense, which might include possessing, selling or conspiring to sell illegal drugs, know that this can disqualify you from receiving student loans. Whether it ultimately will, however, depends on when you committed your crime, among other variables. To lose your financial aid eligibility, you must have been placed under arrest during a time when you were currently enrolled in school and already receiving student loan assistance. If, for example, you were placed under arrest for a drug crime over the summer, when you were not currently receiving any financial aid, your arrest should not impact your aid moving forward.

Duration of ineligibility

If you do lose financial aid because of a drug conviction, your criminal history will play a role in when you can get it back. First offenders can, for instance, typically regain access to financial aid far sooner than second or third-time drug offenders.

Whether you will ultimately lose your access to financial aid because of your drug conviction varies based on several circumstances, but before panicking, do your research. You may have an alternative option available.


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  • Client was charged in federal court with the felony offense of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm. After negotiation with the US Attorney's Office, the felony gun charge was dismissed and our client...

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  • Client charged with Felony Assault on a Police Officer, misdemeanor assault, and resisting an officer. After a jury trial where multiple police officers testified about the incident, our client was found not guilty ..

  • Client investigated by federal law enforcement for possessing child pornography. Ryan began representing the client during the investigation and ultimately the client was not charged with any crimes...

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Super Lawyers Board Certified Specialist | North Carolina State Bar | Federal / State Criminal Law
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