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Despite your arrest at the hands of New Jersey police, you still desire to earn a degree. Could your drug charge become a roadblock to qualifying for student loans?

U.S. News & World Report offers tips for navigating financial aid applications with a drug conviction on your record. Learn where to focus your efforts and what to consider while covering the cost of higher education.

Ineligibility period

Those convicted of drug possession should expect to remain ineligible for federal student aid for a year from their conviction date. Consecutive convictions extend that period, but a third arrest results in indefinite ineligibility.

Retain eligibility

Depending on your circumstances, if you pass two unannounced drug tests or complete a drug rehabilitation program, you could regain federal financial aid eligibility early.

Reverse conviction

If you have three drug convictions, you may regain federal aid eligibility by wiping, setting aside or reversing the convictions from your record. Because this depends on your individual situation, those with professional experience in this area could help you determine if this path of action makes sense for you.

Alternative funding

If you face more severe student financial aid restrictions because of more severe drug penalties, such as incarceration, you may have little choice but to seek alternative funding. While you may not qualify for federal aid, you could meet the requirements for federal work-study or a federal grant. Another potential source of alternative funding is nonfederal aid, but you may only qualify by completing and submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

A criminal conviction does not shut off all sources of financial assistance for students. Educating yourself on the most viable options may help you pay for college.