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Student Aid & Your Conviction

Understanding Student Aid

Federal student aid is money that is lent by the U.S. Department of Education to help people pay for college. About $150 billion a year is awarded in low-interest loans, grants and work-study funds. This money is intended to pay for tuition, room and board, transportation, books and other supplies.

Pell Grants

One popular form of federal student aid is the Federal Pell Grant, which can be awarded to undergraduate students who have not yet earned a degree. Unlike loans, these funds do not need to be paid back.

Financial Aid and Incarceration

If you are incarcerated in a federal or state institution, you cannot receive:

  • - Federal student loans
  • - Federal Pell Grant

You are, however, eligible to receive a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) or a Federal Work-Study (FWS); however, your chances of being awarded either are low.

If you are in any other corrective institution, you may receive a Federal Pell Grant, but not federal student loans.

Financial Aid After Incarceration

Post-incarceration, parolees and those who are on probation or living in a halfway house are eligible for financial student aid, unless:

  • - Convicted of a drug crime
  • - Convicted of a sexual offense and are serving an involuntary civil commitment

Regaining Eligibility After a Drug Offense

If you are convicted of a drug offense, your eligibility to receive any federal student aid will be suspended. In order to become eligible again, you must:

  • - Complete an approved drug rehab program, OR
  • - Pass two unannounced drug tests at an approved drug rehabilitation program

Current students who have passed these eligibility benchmarks should notify their college or university’s financial aid office as soon as possible. Remember that if you were convicted after receiving federal funds, you may have to return any money that you were awarded during the period of your ineligibility.

Fill Out the FAFSA

Even if you do not qualify to receive financial aid, it is still important that you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The information you provide on this form will be shared with other non-federal aid sources that may award you money for your education.

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