Being accused of a crime can be a scary event for anyone. For college students, however, the potential threat of a criminal conviction can mean the difference between graduating and not graduating.
As student defense attorneys, our team at DC Student Defense deals with college students who are arrested and charged with criminal activity all of the time. One of the most common questions we receive is: “What effect is this going to have on my scholarship?”
The short answer is that it depends – on a number of different variables. Depending on the severity of your crime and your school’s specific policies, you may be in danger of losing all your financial aid, or you may have nothing to worry about.
Below is some of the information you should know if you’re a college student who’s been convicted of a crime.
Federal Financial Aid
One of the biggest suppliers of financial aid in the US is the federal government. Millions of students every year use federal grants and loans to finance their higher education. Without it, many students would likely not be able to attend college at all.
The most prominent barriers for those with a criminal record is a drug offense. Any drug offense bars you from receiving federal grants and loans. Whether a misdemeanor or a felony, anything drug-related disqualifies you from federal financial aid.
For most other felonies, there are no explicit rules against receiving financial aid from the federal government.
If you are currently incarcerated, that will provide barriers to receiving federal funding for your education as well. Incarceration bars you from receiving federal student loans and Pell Grants.
You may still be able to receive work-study or other federal funds, but the fact that you’re incarcerated will make it difficult to meet the requirements for these programs.
Individual Schools’ Scholarships
So being charged with a crime doesn’t necessarily mean you will lose all federal funding – only if you are convicted of a drug offense or if you are sentenced to jail time. But what about your school’s individual merit or need-based scholarships?
Every school’s policies are different. For example, some schools may be participating in Ban the Box campaigns, which advocate for creating greater opportunities for those convicted of felonies.
This means they may not inquire about past criminal records or take that into account when awarding scholarships.
Other schools might take the opposite approach. Many universities have agreements with local law enforcement to be informed whenever one of their students is arrested or gets in trouble with the law.
For these schools, an arrest, charge, or conviction might be enough to disqualify you from their merit or need-based scholarships.
The best way to find out is to contact your school’s financial aid office. They will be able to give you information about your school’s policy and the specific requirements for maintaining good academic standing in order to receive scholarships.
Contact a DC Student Defense Attorney Today
If you have been accused of a crime and you are concerned about the effect that it may have on your college career, working with a student defense attorney to understand the extent of the accusation’s impact is vital.
Contact DC Student Defense today.
We can help make sure your rights are being respected, and walk you through any legal processes you need to protect your academic future. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.