If you are a college student, you may not have to pay for tuition, fees and other academic expenses on your own. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Office, most students can apply every year for roughly $120 billion in federal grants, subsidized loans and work-study dollars.
You may have heard that drug convictions result in an immediate suspension of federal government-backed financial aid. Fortunately, while this rumor certainly was true in the past, the DOE now has changed its policy.
What is the change?
In early 2021, the DOE announced a change to the way it processes financial aid applications for those who have drug-associated convictions during their award periods. While the Federal Student Aid Office continues to ask applicants about drug convictions, the DOE no longer uses these convictions as a reason to suspend the federal educational dollars college students receive.
Why did the policy change?
For decades, activists decried the DOE’s downright brutal denial of access to financial aid for students with drug convictions in their past. After all, while drug offenders often lost vital educational funds, others with more serious convictions had little or no trouble. Out of both basic fairness and evolving perceptions of many drug offenses, the DOE finally made its change.
While a drug conviction should play no role in your eligibility for federal financial aid, there are many other reasons to fight the drug charges you are facing. These include avoiding academic discipline, keeping private scholarship funds and staying out of jail.
Ultimately, before accepting a plea deal, it is always advisable to think about all possible defenses.