Criminal charges can have a significant impact on people of all ages, but current and prospective college students face unique consequences. Not only will a conviction lead to fines and other penalties, students may lose their eligibility for government financial aid. What do students and parents need to know?
Do criminal charges always impact a student’s financial aid?
When filling out the federal application for student aid, students and parents alike may notice questions about a student’s criminal history. This does not necessarily mean that every criminal conviction will impact a student’s eligibility, however.
Certain crimes—including drug crimes and sexual offenses—make students ineligible for a Federal Pell Grant for a period of time. In addition, while students are still eligible for a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) after a conviction, they may lose access to that grant due to that conviction. Priority for these awards is given to Pell Grant recipients, and a student’s lost Pell Grant eligibility could put this additional financial aid in jeopardy as a result.
Students eligible for Federal Work Study (FWS) won’t necessarily lose that financial assistance. However, if incarcerated or on probation, a student may find it challenging to uphold their responsibilities
Can college students regain eligibility for financial aid?
Depending on the charges, students may be able to regain eligibility after a period of time. They may also be able to regain eligibility after taking periodic drug tests or undergoing a rehab program.
Penalties resulting from a criminal conviction—including the loss of student aid—can have a significant impact on students’ lives. This makes building a strong legal defense especially important.