A drug conviction may jeopardize your college financial aid
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A drug conviction may jeopardize your college financial aid

| May 3, 2021 | Criminal Defense

If you are planning to pursue higher education, you probably already know how expensive tuition, fees and books can be. Even though tuition in Florida is lower than the national average, you can expect to pay at least $4,000 per year to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

Because an educated population is good for everyone, the federal government offers subsidized grants, loans and work-study funds to many college students. If you have a drug conviction during your award period, though, you may face an immediate suspension of your government-backed financial aid.

Determining your eligibility

To gauge your eligibility for government-subsidized financial assistance, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid by your college’s deadline. The FAFSA asks you to disclose whether you have a conviction for possessing or distributing a controlled substance. Answering this question truthfully is critical, as providing misleading or false information may constitute a crime.

Understanding your financial risk

Typically, educational officials automatically suspend the financial aid of anyone who has a drug-related conviction during the award period. A possession conviction usually triggers a one-year suspension, while a distribution conviction may result in a two-year one. For multiple drug-related convictions, indefinite suspensions are even possible.

Completing your education

If you rely on government-backed financial aid to pay for school, you may be able to apply for early termination of your suspension. To do so, you may either complete an approved drug rehabilitation program or provide two consecutive drug-free urine samples during surprise testing.

Ultimately, an arrest for a drug-related offense should not derail your educational plans or ruin your future. By exploring all possible defenses, you may avoid a financial aid suspension altogether.