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College students can face major consequences for drug convictions

College is a time of experimentation, often without carefully considering the potential repercussions for an action. Students can engage in a lot of risky behaviors, from cheating on exams to drinking before they turn 21, largely because they see many of their peers doing the same thing without consequence.

It is common for college students to assume that because their friends don't get caught, they won't either. However, a small fraction of college students who experiment with drugs and alcohol will wind up facing criminal consequences as a result, just like some students who cheat on tests also get caught.

Unlike cheating on an exam, however, a drug conviction could impact more than just one course at your college. When a college student gets caught with drugs, they face more than potential criminal consequences.

Colleges may take disciplinary action against students convicted of crimes

Just getting convicted of a crime isn't where the consequences end. Even if you plead guilty to keep yourself from facing any kind of jail time, you could regret that decision in the future. The school you attend could find out about the charges, especially if you get arrested on campus.

Your college likely has a policy in place regarding criminal activity. Students who get convicted of any kind of offense may have to appear before a disciplinary board that has the power to kick them out of school or impose other penalties.

Even if you don't face disciplinary action from your school, a criminal conviction could have a direct impact on your ability to maintain a scholarship that you depend on to cover the costs of your education. When you renew the scholarship the next year, they could discover your criminal record, which could be grounds for refusing to pay on your scholarship again.

Drug convictions can cut you off from federal student aid

Perhaps the most upsetting consequence of a drug conviction is the fact that it eliminates your eligibility for federal student aid. When you fill out the standard form used for federal student aid, it will ask you on the application if you have any criminal convictions. There is also a second question specifically inquiring about drug-related convictions.

If you answer yes to the drug conviction question, you will not be able to receive federal scholarships or grants, participate in federal work-study programs or even borrow through federally subsidized student loan programs. That means that your youthful mistake involving experimentation with drugs in college could completely alter the course of your future.

You shouldn't wait for the worst outcome. Instead, take a proactive approach to protecting yourself as a student or your child if you are the parent of a recently arrested college student in New Jersey.

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