Each year, the federal government awards billions of dollars in financial aid to college-bound students. According to the U.S. Department of Education, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to compete for loans, grants and work-study dollars. This year, the deadline to file the form is June 30.
If you have a drug conviction in your past, you may wonder whether you must disclose it on the FAFSA. Because the form specifically asks about these convictions, you probably must. Still, because of a recent change in policy, your drug conviction is not likely to make you ineligible for government-backed financial aid.
A harsh history
Until recently, the DOE suspended federal financial aid for students with drug convictions. While there were ways to regain eligibility, these suspensions often made college unaffordable. Because this policy did little to stop students from using controlled substances, education advocates worked tirelessly to change it.
Your college budget
In early 2021, the DOE announced it would no longer consider drug convictions when making financial aid decisions. This is good news for your college budget, as you can still compete for federal financial aid. Unfortunately, though, a drug conviction still may be disastrous for the private scholarships you receive.
Many scholarship programs require students to follow a strict code of conduct. If your drug conviction violates an applicable one, the private organization may decide to revoke your funding. Your college or university may also take steps to discipline you.
Ultimately, because there remain some very serious consequences for drug convictions, it is advisable to weigh all your options before accepting a guilty plea.