As they prepare for the spring semester, most of Lycoming County’s high school seniors are also making decisions about college. Either they are deciding between schools they have been accepted into, or they are awaiting decisions from their preferred colleges, community colleges and universities. Also, older adults interested in giving their careers a boost are going back to school, either for a bachelor’s or graduate degree.
Everyone knows that college is expensive. Few people can afford to go to college without the help of scholarships and student loans. But if you have a criminal record, you might have a hard time getting help paying for your tuition, housing, books and other expenses.
Student financial aid and criminal convictions
If you are currently incarcerated in federal or state prison in Pennsylvania or elsewhere, you are ineligible for a Federal Pell Grant or federal student loans. Those in other institutions are eligible for Pell Grants, but not federal student loans.
If you have been released, most restrictions on student loans no longer apply — with this important exception: if you were sentenced to jail or prison for a drug-related offense, or if you are subject to an involuntary civil commitment for a sex-related offense, your ability to seek financial aid may be limited. To regain eligibility, you can complete an approved drug addiction rehabilitation program or pass two unannounced drug tests administered by an approved rehab program. This is why you should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form even if you have a drug conviction on your record.
Why confronting the charges is important for college students
If your child is currently a college student, they could lose their student loans if they are convicted of a serious drug offense. Their ability to complete their education and follow their dreams could be in danger. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney can be critical.