Do Drug Convictions Affect Financial Aid Eligibility?

You may have heard rumors about drug convictions making college students across Illinois and the rest of the nation ineligible for financial aid. For a long time, those rumors were true. Until recently, anyone who received a drug conviction at a time when they were receiving financial aid stood to lose financial aid eligibility for a year, two years or even longer.

Per Federal Student Aid, an Office of the U.S. Department of Education, receiving a drug conviction while a recipient of federal financial aid no longer disqualifies a student from using financial aid moving forward.

Rule changes

College students have to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid every year they hope to use this form of assistance. When completing the form, applicants must answer questions about their criminal history with regard to drugs. This was true in the past and it still holds true now. However, college students no longer have to worry about whether being truthful in this section might hurt their financial aid eligibility.

Other possible sanctions

While drug convictions no longer impact financial aid, they may lead to a range of other penalties and repercussions that could have a serious impact on a college student’s future. For example, some schools have honor codes that prevent students with drug convictions from attending. Also, a college student may still face considerable criminal sanctions such as jail time following a drug offense even if he or she does not receive sanctions related to federal aid.

In some instances, drug convictions may also lead to a loss of scholarships for college students, among other possible consequences.