It is not uncommon for young people to experiment with drugs, but if you plan to go to college, you may want to avoid caving into your curiosity. Why? Because according to Federal Student Aid, An Office of the U.S. Department of Education, a drug conviction or incarceration may affect your eligibility for federal student aid in Pennsylvania.

If you are incarcerated in a state or federal institution, you are not eligible for federal student loans or a Federal Pell Grant. That said, you may qualify for Federal Work Study or a Federal Supplement Educational Opportunity Grant, though you likely will not for two reasons. For one, the government gives students who receive Federal Pell Grants (for which you are not eligible) priority for FSEOG. Two, trying to perform an FWS while incarcerated is difficult and the state is unlikely to both award you funds and help you overcome the logistical challenges your situation presents.

That said, once your sentence is up, the state will remove most eligibility limitations. If you hope to attend school soon after your release, you may apply for federal or state aid before your release. Bear in mind that if your conviction is drug-related, your eligibility may remain limited.

If you were currently receiving federal student aid at the time of your arrest, the government may suspend your eligibility. However, you can regain eligibility sooner rather than later by successfully completing a drug rehabilitation program of which the department approves. You must also pass two unannounced drug tests.

If you lost eligibility for student aid because of a drug-related conviction, and if you already received some aid, you may have to repay any and all funds received from the date of the offense until the date of re-eligibility.

This article is for educational purposes only. You should not use it as legal advice.