For many young people, college is the beginning of a bright future. Not only does it offer them an opportunity to learn and prepare for their career, but it also gives them the chance to experience life on their own. However, if a mistake leads to criminal charges, it can lead them and their families to wonder whether they can still pursue a degree. Can young people still attend college with a criminal record?
Young people with a criminal record may face challenges during the admissions process.
Students applying for college may find that their criminal record stands between them and acceptance. Between 60 and 80 percent of colleges include questions about a student’s criminal history at some point in the application process. This information is often fairly broad, and one study indicated that one-third of colleges would view applicants less favorably with even a pending misdemeanor or arrest on their record.
Convictions may also impact eligibility for student aid.
Even for students who attain college acceptance or are currently pursuing their degree, a conviction can lead to additional financial barriers. Certain charges—those involving drug or sex crimes—can lead to temporary or permanent loss of eligibility for federal student aid and grants. Access to other funds, like the Federal Supplemental Educational Equal Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) or Federal Work-Study (FWS), may also be limited.
Because of the challenges that young people face when applying for college with a criminal record, building a solid defense to protect them and their future from these charges can be critical.