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What does a drug conviction mean for your federal financial aid?

If you are facing drug charges, your paramount concern is probably your criminal exposure. After all, depending on the charges, you may be at risk of both losing your freedom and paying a hefty fine. You also may have to live with a criminal record for the rest of your life.

Minimizing your criminal exposure is certainly a worthwhile goal. Still, if your drug charges lead to a conviction, you may worry about your ability to pay for college. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Education no longer considers drug convictions when determining eligibility for government-backed loans, grants or work-study program participation.

A major change in policy

When it comes to criminal matters and their consequences, it is imperative not to listen to friends and relatives. Indeed, these individuals may have incorrect or outdated information. If they have told you drug convictions cause a suspension of federal financial aid, they do not have their facts straight.

In the past, the U.S. DOE took a hard-line stance against those with drug convictions. According to the U.S. DOE, though, educational officials changed this approach in early 2021. Now, you can compete for and receive federal dollars regardless of whether you have a drug conviction in your past.

A limited scope

Even though the U.S. DOE’s recent policy change is good news, it has no effect on private organizations. Consequently, a drug conviction still may cause you to lose private scholarship dollars or the funds you receive from some other sources.

Ultimately, to ensure your complete financial aid package remains intact, it is advisable to mount a serious and aggressive defense against the drug charges you are currently facing.