A drug conviction may trigger loss of federal student aid

On Behalf of | May 21, 2020 | Firm News |

A drug conviction may cause Texas college and university students to lose their federal student aid. 

The Bureau of Justice Assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice oversees the Denial of Federal Benefits program. This program allows state and federal courts to deny federal student aid to offenders convicted of drug trafficking or drug possession. 

Drug trafficking and possession convictions may affect aid  

Students may find their federal aid at risk if they violate state or federal drug trafficking laws that ban distribution of a controlled substance. A court may order loss of benefits for up to five years for a first conviction, up to ten years for a second conviction and permanently for a third or subsequent conviction. 

Students may also lose federal aid for violations of state or federal drug possession laws. A court may withdraw aid for up to one year for a first conviction and up to five years for second and subsequent convictions. Judges may also require offenders to undergo drug counseling with testing and to perform community service. 

Drug convictions impact different types of aid  

The U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid explains that students confined in a federal or state institution may lose eligibility for both student loans and Pell Grants. Students in a facility other than a federal or state institution may qualify for Pell Grants. While students convicted of drug crimes may retain eligibility for federal work-study programs, they would unlikely qualify because working while incarcerated presents practical obstacles. 

Students may reclaim eligibility for aid if they meet certain criteria, which may include completion of a drug rehabilitation program or passing two unannounced drug tests. Students who regain eligibility should contact their school’s financial aid office to request reinstatement. 

College and university students may also risk their academic standing and eligibility for sports and scholarships with a drug conviction.