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A drug conviction may make paying for college more difficult

While James Madison University is an excellent place to pursue a four-year degree, an education at the school is not inexpensive. In fact, you can expect to pay more than $12,000 in in-state tuition and associated fees every year you are at JMU.

Many students qualify for government-backed financial aid, like low-interest loans, Pell grants and work study programs. To determine if you are eligible for federal financial assistance, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

A question about drug offenses

For students who are already in college, the FAFSA has a question about drug convictions. If you have a record of illegally possessing or selling drugs, you likely must answer this question in the affirmative. Then, you must complete an additional worksheet to determine if you still qualify for financial aid.

If you have never enrolled in a college or university program, the FAFSA should not ask you about your past drug offenses.

A suspension of your student aid

A drug conviction when you are in school may result in either a temporary or indefinite suspension of your government-backed financial aid. The length of the suspension depends on whether your conviction was for drug possession or sales. The number of drug convictions in your past may also influence the duration of your student aid interruption.

If you are facing a suspension of your student aid, you may be able to shorten the length of the suspension by participating in a rehabilitation program and taking a couple surprise drug tests.