Interpreting the change and other frequently asked questions related to having a criminal record
The school year may have just begun but for those looking to qualify for college financial aid, it is never too early to apply. One of the options available is offered by the Department of Education and known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). While this form is not new, there are some recent changes – one of which impacts anyone who previously was convicted of a drug offense while receiving student aid.
According to the FAFSA web site section, they address the question of eligibility:
Is it true that drug convictions might affect my ability to get federal student aid?
No; your eligibility won’t be suspended. Drug convictions no longer affect your federal student aid eligibility.
While most of the changes may not come into play until the 2022-2023 academic year at the earliest, this is one of a few approved revisions that has already taken effect. The Federal Student Aid (FSA) office pointed out that the question has yet to be removed from the form. To mitigate the potential confusion on behalf of applicants, college financial aid offices have been alerted to this issue and a process is in place to ensure answering “yes” will not impact an applicant’s eligibility.
This is a welcome change to many otherwise qualified individuals seeking a college education but need assistance. Although this is a notable change, there are other criminal related matters that will continue to impact one’s application for aid. A common question is one of eligibility if on probation or parole. For most offenses, one may still qualify with a misdemeanor or felony conviction. However, if incarcerated and/or in cases of forcible or nonforcible sexual offenses, access to financial aid can be denied until one serves his/her sentence.
A last word of advice… applicants should avoid the temptation to lie on the FAFSA. Schools are known to conduct impromptu audits so if found to be falsified, eligibility can be compromised.
At Neff & Sedacca, P.C., we are committed to providing strategically-sound, aggressive defense for our clients. If you have questions regarding rights for financial aid or in criminal legal matters, you should seek experienced legal counsel. To schedule a confidential consultation with the attorneys at Neff & Sedacca, P.C., contact the firm by phone at 215-563-9800 or email email@example.com.