For students who receive federal student aid, a criminal record can affect their eligibility. Most students require some form of student aid to be able to pay for higher education. If you are currently a student or considering becoming a student, you do need to consider your criminal record.
Federal Student Aid explains that while a criminal conviction can affect student aid, it does not mean that a student cannot receive aid.
Convictions that affect student aid
If you happen to receive a drug conviction during a time where you receive federal aid, then you could face a suspension of eligibility. When you complete your FAFSA, you will have to report if you had a drug conviction while receiving aid. Then, you must fill out a worksheet to determine your eligibility. In some cases, you can regain your eligibility if you complete an approved rehabilitation program. Convictions like forcible or nonforcible sexual offenses will bar you from receiving a Pell Grant.
Incarceration can affect student aid
If you are currently in a federal or state institution, you are not eligible for federal student loans or the Pell Grant. However, you may be able to receive a Federal Work-Study or Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. Students who have a Pell Grant do receive priority when it comes to Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants. Also, with work-study, it is often difficult to perform an FWS job while incarcerated. If you are not in a federal or state institution, you still qualify for the Pell Grant. You cannot receive federal student loans, however.