If you are the parent of a college student who is facing charges for a drug-related crime, you may have concerns about the penalties and collateral consequences he or she may face if convicted. In addition to possible jail time, fines and related penalties, your college student may face collateral consequences which do not come directly from the criminal justice system.
What may be of particular concern to you is whether a drug conviction will affect your child’s access to financial aid, and regrettably, it very well might.
Drug convictions that can impact financial aid
If your son or daughter receives a drug conviction, regardless of whether it occurs at the state or federal level, it may impact his or her ability to retain financial aid. Drug convictions that can affect financial aid eligibility include possession charges, distribution charges and conspiring to sell charges, among others.
How long students can lose financial aid
Ultimately, the length of time in which you can expect your child to lose access to financial aid will vary based on your child’s existing criminal history or lack thereof. For example, if it is your child’s first drug conviction, expect him or her to lose financial aid eligibility for one year. If it is his or her second offense, anticipate a two-year loss, and if it is a third offense, you can expect your child to lose financial aid access indefinitely.
Whether your child will ultimately lose access to financial aid because of a drug conviction will also depend on the time of year the arrest occurred. If your child’s arrest occurred after, say, a college Halloween party, when he or she was actively receiving federal aid, he or she will likely lose financial aid access. If the arrest took place over the summer, however, when your child was not currently receiving assistance, the crime typically will not affect financial aid eligibility.
In some cases, and particularly if your child does not have an existing criminal history, he or she may be able to plead to a lesser charge.