As we near the time of year when many college students are headed off to South Beach on spring break, it’s important to remind students the impact that their actions on spring break can have on their future. Specifically, the impact that a drug conviction can have on a college student’s eligibility for federal student aid.
Until recently (2009) a single drug conviction on a person’s record may have rendered them ineligible for student aid forever. Thankfully, due to the recent changes in the law surrounding federal student aid, penalties have changed relating to drug convictions and student aid benefits. First, in order for a person’s aid to be impacted they must have been enrolled in school and receiving aid at the time of the incident. If a person was not actively receiving aid then prior convictions will not hinder their ability to receive aid. Further, a person is not considered to be receiving aid over summer breaks, but they are considered to be receiving aid during any holiday breaks.
For students who are actively receiving aid at the time of the incident, a three strike rule applies to them. Under the three strike rule, if the incident is the student’s first drug conviction for a possession offense then the student is ineligible for one year from the date of conviction, if the offense is for the sale of drugs then the person is ineligible for two years. For a second offense possession charge, a student is ineligible for two years from the date of conviction, and for the second offense sale of drugs a student has an indefinite period of eligibility. Third or more offenses will result in an indefinite period of ineligibility.
A person can shorten their period of ineligibility by successfully completing an approved drug rehabilitation program that includes passing two, clean drug tests or by passing two unannounced drug tests administered by an approved drug rehabilitation program. Lastly, a person can shorten their ineligibility by having the conviction reversed, set aside, or otherwise rendered invalid.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime please contact one of the lawyers at our office in Racine, Wisconsin.