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What happens with your student loans if you are convicted of a drug crime?

The fall college and university season will soon be getting underway. An influx of students will be taking to local college campuses, making decisions on their own. They’re bound to face peer pressure to use or distribute drugs.

While you may realize that a conviction for a crime carries with it the potential of fines and prison time, there can be other collateral consequences. These may include an inability to secure housing, jobs and even student loans. If you’re a student facing drug charges, you need to know how your charges may impact your ability to afford to stay enrolled.

Your eligibility for loans may suffer an impact even if you aren’t incarcerated

Government officials may suspend your eligibility for federal student loans and even order you to repay anything you’re received upon your conviction for drug charges, even if you’re only sentenced to probation, supervised release or time served.

How incarceration impacts your federal student loans and grants

A conviction for drug charges may result in the withdrawal of your student loans and Pell Grants. This is particularly the case if a judge sentences you to prison. Incarcerated people can generally retain their Pell Grants, but not their student loans if they’re housed in a non-state or federal prison.

You may still qualify for participation in federal work-study programs. However, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) only issues limited funds to schools to fund these programs.

Restoring your right to federal student aid after incarceration

Most of your federal student aid opportunities should be restored to you after your release from prison. Some drug convictions may permanently bar you from receiving federal aid, though. Probation or parole doesn’t necessarily affect your ability to receive federal student aid.

You may be able to get your eligibility restored by completing an approved drug rehabilitation program. You should contact your school’s financial aid office after the restoration of your aid eligibility.

A drug offense conviction or being currently incarcerated can dramatically limit your ability to receive federal student aid. With a solid defense strategy as you head to trial in your case, you may be able to avoid losing your education funding.