College should be a mix of new experiences — moving away from home, taking in-depth classes and meeting new friends. However, receiving a criminal charge was probably never part of the plan.

Pressure from peers can lead to illegal drug use, underage drinking or even drinking and driving. These types of criminal charges often result in fines, loss of driver’s license and even jail time, depending on the severity. As a student you also run the risk of losing scholarships. However, seeking legal aid can help you minimize setbacks you may face.

Financial aid & scholarships

Criminal convictions or jail time can lead to loss of federal financial aid. If you’re required to serve time in jail your eligibility will change depending on the type of school you attend. If you attend a federal or state institution, then you won’t be able to receive the Federal Pell Grant or federal student loans. If you attend any other institution, then you can still receive the Federal Pell Grant, but not federal student loans.

As a college student at any institution, you have a small chance of receiving a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant or a Federal Work-Study after incarceration. You’ll remain eligible, but chances are typically slim as other students without charges will receive higher priority. And you could lose a work-study opportunity if your required jail time interferes with your ability to show up to the job.

Maybe your offense hasn’t placed you behind bars, but you face probation, parole or live in a halfway house. In any of those situations, you could still receive federal aid. Some drug-related convictions will affect your eligibility, but there are rehabilitation programs that could help you reclaim the opportunity to receive support.

You can also lose private or school-specific scholarships if you commit a misdemeanor or felony. Plus, having a conviction on your record could disqualify you from applying for future scholarships even if you pay your dues or serve your time.

Legal aid

Although, a criminal conviction can set you back, the road to a successful career doesn’t have to end the second you receive a charge. Working with a criminal defense attorney can help you minimize the impact of a criminal offense and set the stage for a clean background check required for your dream job.