Can I lose my Federal Student Aid for just a marijuana possession charge?

The short answer is YES.

If you are convicted of a drug charge you may become ineligible for student aid. In some cases this ineligibility could be for life. Any federal or state conviction from simple possession to possession with intent to deliver can disqualify you from receiving federal student aid grants and loans. The way the government calculates these disqualifications is dependent on whether or not you were receiving aid at the time of the charges, however there needs to be a valid conviction before your aid can be affected.

How this works.

If you are on summer break and not taking any classes thus not currently receiving any aid and are charged in Pennsylvania for Small Amount of Marijuana. Even if you are convicted sometime later during the fall semester this should not affect your ability to receive federal student aid. This is because you were not currently receiving aid when the violation occurred even though you were convicted during a period of time when you were receiving aid.

However if you are charged in Pennsylvania for Small Amount of Marijuana during the spring semester when you are receiving federal student loans, but are not convicted until over the summer break this would count against you for receiving federal aid in the future; because the offense occurred during a time when you were receiving federal student aid.

In addition if you are determined to be a drug trafficker (in Pennsylvania this would be a felony charge of possession with intent to deliver). The state or federal Judge could specifically deny you federal benefits including federal student loans.

If you received a drug conviction ten years ago that would have meant a total loss of federal aid for life. Now the laws have become less final by creating a tiered system. For a simple possession charge you would become ineligible for aid for one year from the date of conviction. If you are convicted a second time for a possession charge you would face an additional two years of suspension from federal student aid. If you are convicted for a third offense then you would have a lifetime ban. However if you are convicted of the more serious offense such as a felony charge of possession with intent to deliver then the first offense carries a two year suspension, a second conviction would be a lifetime ban.

If you are serving a suspension of your federal aid you can complete a program to regain your eligibility early. First and second offenders can regain their eligibility status for federal aid by completing a drug rehabilitation program that is approved and meets certain requirements; in addition you will have to pass two unannounced drug tests. If you are able to regain your eligibility early it is important that you work with the financial aid office at your school to start receiving loans again.

Obviously the best way to prevent any of these issues is to not be convicted at all. If there is no conviction then there is no strike against your eligibility to receive Federal student aid.

It is extremely important to contact an experienced law firm right away if you or someone you know is facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania. If you, your son, daughter, or loved one in Pennsylvania has been arrested for a crime in state or federal court in Pennsylvania you need legal representation Here at Manchester and Associates we represent people across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For a free consultation we can be contacted at 1-800-243-4878.

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