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If you have a past felony on your criminal record and want to attend college, you may rightfully feel concerned that your past mistake will prevent you from receiving financial aid. This is true in some cases but not in others. The important thing is to find out where you stand and work with the resources available to you. As you might expect, your eligibility for financial aid depends on the severity and category of your felony.

Applying for Federal or State Financial Aid with a Drug Conviction

When you fill out the Free Application for Student Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), it will include a question about whether you had a conviction for a drug offense while previously receiving financial aid. If you answer yes, the on-screen prompt will take you to another page to determine if you are eligible to finish completing the application.

If you have a drug conviction that has prevented you from receiving financial aid in the past, you can become eligible again in one of two ways. The first is to complete a qualified drug treatment program, and the second is to pass two random drug tests in a row. An administrator at your drug treatment program will do the testing and provide you with the results.

You will have the most difficulty obtaining financial aid if a court convicts you of a drug offense after you have submitted your FAFSA. Not only will you lose financial aid eligibility, but you will need to repay any funds you have already received.

Receiving Student Financial Aid While Incarcerated, on Probation, or on Parole

You are ineligible for federal or state financial aid while incarcerated in a federal or state institution. While you do retain eligibility to apply for a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), you will likely not receive one. The reason for this is that the federal government prioritizes FSEOG funds for students who have received a Federal Pell Grant.

If you are in jail or prison but it is not a federal or state institution, you retain eligibility for FSEOG and Federal Pell Grants. However, you likely would not receive FSEOG funds in this situation either. You can begin working on your FAFSA before your release if you know your release date and that you plan to attend college.

Your ineligibility for student financial aid typically lifts when you finish serving your time, except if you have a drug-related or sexual offense. While you may have some eligibility in these cases, you should expect limitations. You should be eligible for student financial aid if you are currently on parole or probation, but drug-related or sexual offenses limit your options here as well.

Sara Turner Has Years of Experience with Legal Issues Unique to College Students

Serving in a town with five colleges, Sara Turner has the experience representing young people that you need. Please contact the Law Office of Sara A. Turner to request a consultation today. She is available to defend your conviction and advise you on how to best secure your future.


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