Criminal charges can impact a student’s eligibility for federal financial aid, depending on the nature and severity of the charges. While not all criminal charges will necessarily affect federal financial aid, certain types of convictions can have a significant impact.
In the past, drug convictions could immediately halt a person’s eligibility for federal financial aid to go to college. Updates to the law have removed that penalty from drug charges. Some other ways criminal charges may affect students include:
Limited access to financial aid during incarceration
Students who are currently incarcerated in federal or state institutions may have limited access to federal financial aid. They are not eligible for federal student loans and may have limited access to Federal Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG). However, once released, these students may regain eligibility for federal financial aid, depending on the nature of their criminal charges.
Certain sex offenses have specific limitations
Students who have been convicted of a forcible or nonforcible sexual offense and are subject to an involuntary civil commitment upon the completion of their incarceration are not eligible for a Federal Pell Grant. Other limitations might also be present depending on the conviction.
It is important for students to be aware of the potential consequences of criminal charges on their federal financial aid eligibility. If a student is concerned about their eligibility due to a criminal charge, they should consult with their school’s financial aid office to determine what’s possible.
In some cases, mounting the strongest defense possible to those criminal charges might be the best course of action. Discussing your case with someone who can help you to learn your options and how they may impact you can be beneficial.