If you are planning to go to college, you probably already know how expensive obtaining a four-year degree can be. In fact, according to the College Data Initiative, the average cost to attend any four-year school in the U.S. is more than $35,000 per year.
Luckily, the federal government helps students achieve their educational goals by offering billions of dollars in financial aid annually. In the past, though, a drug conviction was disastrous. That is, if you had a conviction during your award year, you became immediately ineligible for government help.
A new way of awarding funds
After decades of lobbying from criminal justice advocates and education proponents, the U.S. Department of Education has announced a new way of awarding funds. The DOE no longer punishes students for their drug convictions. Therefore, your drug conviction is not likely to render you ineligible for loans, grants or even work-study participation.
A limited change
While the DOE’s policy change is certainly welcome, you still have some good reasons to fight any drug charges you are facing. Specifically, drug convictions can trigger academic punishment from your college or university. This punishment may come in the form of a suspension or even expulsion from the institution.
You also may be in danger of losing private scholarships, as these programs still may consider your criminal history when awarding funds. After you graduate, having a drug conviction may make it difficult to land your dream job or obtain professional licensure.
Ultimately, by understanding all your legal options, you may minimize many of the education-related consequences that often come from drug-related arrest, prosecution and conviction.