Whether you are a parent or college-aged student, you have probably heard about the U.S. Department of Education’s harsh perception of those with drug convictions. In fact, the DOE has a tradition of cutting off federal financial aid to students who have drug convictions during their award periods.
Thankfully, the DOE has changed the way it awards loans, grants and work-study funds to those with criminal records. After announcing a major policy change, the DOE has stopped suspending federal financial aid for students with possession and distribution convictions. According to reporting from CNBC, this policy change has been in the works for years.
No effect on eligibility
In the past, disclosing drug convictions on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid caused students to lose their federal financial aid immediately. While there were ways to regain eligibility, affected students often found college to be unaffordable. Now, drug convictions have no effect on financial aid eligibility.
An obligation to report
Even though DOE bureaucrats do not consider drug convictions when awarding federal financial aid, the FAFSA still asks applicants to disclose their convictions. Consequently, if you have a drug conviction, it is advisable to be forthcoming about it. After all, providing false or misleading information on the FAFSA can be problematic.
No change to other financial aid
While the DOE’s recent policy change is certainly welcome news to students with drug convictions in their past, there continue to be some good reasons to fight drug charges. Specifically, the DOE’s new policy does not apply to academic discipline or private financial aid.
Ultimately, if a drug conviction violates a college’s code of conduct or the rules of a private scholarship program, students still may encounter some challenges.