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Can criminal charges lead to academic consequences?

College is full of learning opportunities, both inside and outside of the classroom. During their college years, many students make mistakes that end up being valuable lessons. Yet, some of these mistakes can result in criminal charges, which can lead to academic consequences. There are ways that students can mitigate these, though, and protect their education.

Possible academic consequences

Each college has its own specific system for disciplining student misconduct. While the nature of a student’s charges will influence their consequences, so will the way their campus punishes misbehavior. Depending on the type of charges a student receives, their school could:

  • Place them on academic probation
  • Revoke their academic or need-based scholarships
  • Revoke their campus housing privileges
  • Suspend or expel them

Criminal charges can also impact students’ ability to receive federal student aid. When these charges lead to incarceration, students become ineligible for most of – if not all – grants and loans available to them. In most cases, though, they can reapply for student aid while incarcerated so they can receive it as soon as they return to school. Students convicted of drug charges, though, will face additional restrictions before becoming eligible for aid again. And students who are civilly committed after serving a sentence for a sexual offense will remain ineligible for the Federal Pell Grant.

Options for mitigating consequences

When college students face criminal charges, they may fear that they have no way to mitigate their potential legal and academic consequences. Yet, they may qualify for – and can fight for – less punitive alternatives. Rather than serving a jail sentence, they may be eligible to enter treatment or take part in a diversion program. And rather than facing serious academic discipline, they may be eligible to enter counseling or take part in community service. Students’ ability to do so, though, will depend on whether these alternatives are appropriate, given the nature of their charges.

Criminal charges can derail students’ academic careers. Yet, those who face them have ways to reduce their impact. With the help of an attorney, they can fight for an outcome that allows them to continue their education.