North Carolina university students who benefit from federal student aid need to be aware that a drug crimes conviction could have serious and negative implications for their ability to continue receiving this aid. In fact, any state or federal drug-related convictions for possession, selling or trafficking drugs will count against your eligibility for student aid — but only if the alleged crime happens while the individual is receiving student aid.
Here’s how this works in terms of timing: Imagine you’re arrested for a drug crime in January while enrolled in a federal student aid program and enrolled in school. However, you weren’t convicted until June when you were not in school or benefiting from aid. In this case, because you allegedly committed the crimes while enrolled and receiving benefits, the conviction will probably prevent you from receiving future benefits.
If it happened the other way around — and you were charged with the alleged crime and convicted while you were not enrolled — then the conviction will not negatively affect your continued eligibility. However, if the conviction specifically relates to drug trafficking, then it will affect your eligibility even if you’re not enrolled.
It used to be that student aid ineligibility caused by drug convictions was permanent. However, in 2009, the government instituted a three strikes rule. The first offense results in one year of ineligibility, the second offense results in two years of ineligibility and the third offense is permanent.
Do you need help navigating a drug crime-related defense to protect your eligibility to continue receiving federal student aid? Investigate your drug crime defense options now to protect your legal rights.