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For financial aid, the timing of a drug arrest matters

A lot of things impact your ability to get federal financial aid for school, from your income level to the size of your family. One thing you must be aware of, though, is that your eligibility can also be impacted by a drug conviction.

If you are convicted on drug charges like conspiring to sell illegal drugs or simple possession of these drugs, you may be disqualified from federal loans and grants. This is true for federal convictions and state drug convictions.

However, the timing is incredibly important. To count against you, the crime must have happened when you were being given the student aid.

For instance, imagine that you were arrested during the school year, in February. You were getting aid at the time. You may not be convicted until July, when school is out and you're not getting aid -- as long as you're not in summer classes -- but you could still have the conviction count against you because of when the offense happened.

Conversely, if you were arrested in July and then convicted in November, you would not see that conviction count against you, as long as you were out of school for the summer and you weren't getting aid.

This is true for most drug cases, but there are exceptions, so don't assume it will always be true. For example, if you're convicted of drug trafficking, the judge then has the option to deny benefits on a few different levels. This could include denying your acceptance to a student aid program.

This shows how important it is to understand the full ramifications of a conviction, as it could impact your life in more ways than the sentence alone.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Drug Convictions Can Send Financial Aid Up In Smoke," Betsy Mayotte, accessed Aug. 05, 2016

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