Employers, financial institutions, and other organizations often use criminal records to decide your eligibility for specific roles and services. Therefore, having a conviction on your criminal record may continue to impact your life even after the penalties are served. Whether you’re facing criminal charges or have served your sentence and you’re attempting to go back to school, you’ll want to know whether it will affect your eligibility for financial aid.
You may consider attending college when rebuilding your life after a criminal conviction. However, there are a few restrictions on the types of financial aid you’re eligible for. That’s why it’s always advisable to have the best criminal defense attorney whenever you face criminal charges. Your lawyer can work with you to mitigate the charges against you and help answer any other questions.
What Is College Financial Aid?
College financial aid helps cater to the higher education expenses that many students face. This includes books, other coursework supplies, room and board, tuition fees, and transportation. College financial aid helps make higher education a reality for millions of students nationwide.
Any student in an eligible institution can apply for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Many students receive financial assistance based on their family’s financial situation and other factors.
What Financial Aid is Available to Students with a Criminal Record?
Depending on the crime committed, a student may be eligible for various college financial aid programs. They include:
The Second Chance provides grants for students who are incarcerated. Most students in federal or state prisons may be eligible for this program. However, they will have to be enrolled in approved prison education programs. This program offers up to $6,495, and you won’t need to repay the grant.
Students can also apply for scholarships to pay for college. Many scholarship programs, including those offered by private organizations, foundations, and corporations, are available to students with a criminal record.
College attendees can apply for either federal or private student loans. Having a criminal record may not prevent you from receiving this type of financial aid. Many private lenders don’t have many restrictions based on criminal history, and you can secure many loans with a suitable co-signer.
You can also get a federal work-study job to pay for college. Various schools offer the Federal Work-Study Program, in which jobs are usually on campus.
How Can a Criminal Record Affect Your College Financial Aid Eligibility?
While eligibility for college financial aid is kept reasonably open, things may become more complicated when you’re convicted of certain crimes. While not all crimes may preclude you from getting financial aid, some can. The convictions that may make you ineligible for financial assistance include:
Students who have a drug-related conviction offense on their criminal record cannot get college financial aid. You’ll be ineligible for federal grants or student loans. However, the duration for which you lose eligibility depends on the following:
- If it’s your first offense, you’ll be suspended from federal student aid for a year
- On the second offense, you’ll lose eligibility for two years
- Third and repeat offenders will lose their eligibility indefinitely
Therefore, unless you’re a repeat offender, you are allowed to regain eligibility again. You’ll have to complete an approved drug rehabilitation program or pass two unannounced drug tests administered by an approved drug rehabilitation program.
Sex Crime Convictions
A sexual offense record will also prevent you from receiving college financial aid. Students convicted of forcible or non-forcible sex crimes that require an involuntary civil commitment after incarceration are ineligible for financial assistance.
A criminal record can have several adverse effects on your life. Therefore, it’s essential to work with a criminal defense lawyer early on in the process to help mitigate any charges against you.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Unfortunately, not all students with a criminal record can receive financial aid. This is why it’s vital to take immediate measures to protect yourself when facing any charges by hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney at John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm.
We can craft a compelling defense in your favor, enter negotiations to minimize or drop the charges, and guide you toward achieving the best possible outcome. Our skilled attorneys may also be able to get a charge expunged from your criminal record. If you’ve been arrested, contact our dedicated criminal defense attorneys by calling (318) 377-1555 or through our online form to discuss your case.