Nobody wants to be hauled into jail on a drug charge, but it happens. Maybe it was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, maybe it was a single bad decision, whatever the reason, hundreds of thousands of college students find themselves in the backs of squad cars on drug charges each academic year.
Many students don’t realize how serious being conviction of a drug crime is. They try to laugh it off or say that partying is part of the college experience. The reality is that even a single conviction on a drug charge can dry up financial aid or even shut the doors to college entirely.
That is why it is critical to seek legal representation immediately. A skilled attorney will work with you to build an effective defense. It could be the difference between graduating and being forced to drop out.
Say goodbye to financial aid
Federal student aid is a much-needed resource for virtually every student enrolled in college. Being incarcerated or having a drug charge on your criminal record will impact your eligibility significantly. As explained by Federal Student Aid, you will be ineligible for the Pell Grant and student loans while incarcerated.
Your eligibility for FAFSA will also likely be suspended if your charge occurred while receiving any form of student aid, including grants, loans or work-study. It is possible to have the suspension lifted by completing a drug rehabilitation program or passing two randomly administered drug tests. This does not guaranteed reinstatement though; depending on the nature of the offense you may lose eligibility permanently and may even have to refund a portion of the money you’ve already received.
Academic doors may remain closed
There are currently no laws barring individuals with criminal records from attending college. However, criminal background checks are increasingly becoming a factor in college applications. As Voice of America reported, around 2/3 of post-secondary institutions take students’ criminal records into account during admissions screenings; meaning a criminal record can have just as much weight as good grades, sports abilities or extracurricular involvement.
Depending on your college, a new charge could mean suspension or even expulsion. If you are yet to enter college or plan to transfer, being required to explain a recent drug conviction can severely limit your chance at entering your institution of choice.
Take a moment to stop and think about what might happen before heading out to a party one Friday night. College is about experiencing life and making memories with new friends, but doing so at the cost of your future is not the way to do it.