Colleges and universities are choosing more often to run criminal background checks on the students applying for the limited spots within their school systems. Additionally, a student applying for financial assistance at a higher education institution could be penalized if they have certain offenses on their criminal record.
If you are worried that your past actions could have a detrimental impact on your academic future, contact an Atlanta attorney who could explain the role of expungement in determining financial aid.
Drug charges and convictions are among the most common crimes that can impact a student seeking financial assistance for colleges and universities in the United States. For federal financial aid in particular, a conviction for a misdemeanor or felony drug offense will disqualify a student from eligibility.
However, there are many different forms of aid between scholarships, private financial aid, and other sources that will not automatically disqualify a student with drug charges on their record. Even if they have been convicted of a drug crime, there are ways to eliminate the conviction altogether and expunge this information from their record.
When facing questions on applications regarding prior arrests and criminal history, it may be beneficial to consult with an Atlanta attorney. A legal professional could determine how to craft an answer that minimizes the harm of these past events while maximizing their candor to the review panel making the scholarships or aid decisions. When done well, this strategy could prove that the student’s past offense was an anomaly in their behavior, that they have learned from their mistakes, and that they are on the track to a bright future.
Some more severe crimes may be more difficult for universities to overlook. For example, violent crimes and sexual offenses could make a student ineligible for financial aid or even admission, as many schools fear potential lawsuits that may be levied against them if they allow dangerous individuals onto campus.
In these cases, pursuing expungement and record restriction could be a student’s best option to remove any impediments to receiving federal financial aid.
Though a student’s criminal history can result in the denial of financial aid, there are situations where this denial can be reversed. Every reversal is handled on a case by case basis. The most common scenario for the reversal of a federal financial aid denial in Atlanta occurs when a student utilizes one of the state’s retroactive first offender or conditional discharge statutes. As of 2017, the state provides a mechanism that allows an individual to reverse, discharge, and expunge any public information related to a past conviction if they meet the necessary requirements.
There is no guarantee that a district attorney’s office or judge will agree to the reversal of the conviction, but a well-made case presented cohesively and convincingly to both parties could work in the student’s favor.
This reversal process can be lengthy, and it may take six months or even longer to complete. An Atlanta lawyer is at the mercy of the court system, so it is important for a student to set up a consultation as soon as they realize they have been denied financial aid because of a criminal conviction.
In other situations, with respect to private aid or university scholarships or grants, a student with a more severe criminal past may also benefit from the use of a retroactive first offender application. There are only a few limited charges that make an individual unable to use the retroactive first offender rule, typically those involving murder, rape, child molestation, and more serious offenses that are out there that are simply not eligible. DUIs are also not eligible for this form of expungement.
Financial aid can significantly expand a person’s options for pursuing higher education, but past transgressions can limit their eligibility to apply. If you have a criminal charge or conviction on your record but want to achieve financial aid, ask an Atlanta lawyer about opportunities for expungement. Schedule a consultation today and learn more about the necessary next steps.