Paying for college nowadays often requires some serious planning. If you do not have enough savings to pay for your higher education, you may be able to take advantage of government-subsidized financial aid. After all, the federal government doles out billions in loans, grants and work-study funds every year.
You must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to gauge your eligibility for government-backed financial assistance. Fortunately, a drug-related conviction no longer affects your eligibility for financial help from the federal government. It may harm eligibility for private funds, however.
Disclosing drug convictions
The FAFSA asks applicants to disclose any drug convictions during their award periods. If you have a conviction for distributing or even just possessing a controlled substance, you probably have to notify the government about it. Then, you must complete an additional worksheet. Failing to disclose your drug conviction may constitute fraud, which may have criminal consequences.
Facing a suspension
In the past, a drug conviction during your award period may have triggered a suspension of your government-backed financial aid. That is no longer the case for federal loans, grants and work-study funds. With private scholarships, though, a drug-related conviction may violate a program’s code of conduct. If so, you may face a suspension or termination of your private scholarship funds.
Identifying your risk
Even though you no longer have to worry about losing government-guaranteed financial aid, you may want to check with your school and private scholarship organizations to determine if you are at risk of losing private scholarship dollars. If you are, you may be able to take steps to preserve your financial aid.
Ultimately, while the possibility of losing some of your financial aid may seem like a crisis, defending yourself against drug charges may be an effective way to keep college affordable.