by Rhonda Beassie*
If you or a friend find yourself in the unfortunate position of being charged with a drug-related crime, especially a minor misdemeanor, it can be very tempting to plead guilty, pay a fine, and move on with your life.
Drug convictions often prevent students from receiving financial aid
SHSU Student Legal Services urges you to first seek counsel because drug convictions often prevent students from receiving financial aid. The U.S. Higher Education Act specifies at § 1091(r), often called the Aid Elimination Penalty, that any student “convicted of any offense under any Federal or State law involving the possession or sale of a controlled substance” while the student is receiving federal financial aid will be ineligible for financial aid for a period of time ranging from one year up to an indefinite time period (depending upon the severity and number of convictions). How will your school ever find out about the conviction? The FASFA has questions regarding drug convictions. Applicants answering yes will have follow up questions to further determine potential eligibility. Please know that it is a crime to lie on your FASFA with a fine of up to $10,000.
If you have questions about a current charge or prior convictions and how rehabilitation may change your financial aid eligibility, please visit with SLS. This section of the Higher Education Act has been controversial and the subject of frequent proposed legislative changes. You can learn more about that from on of the leading opponents here.