Historically, having a criminal conviction affected your eligibility to receive most kinds of federal student financial aid. Over time this has changed, and students have been given the ability to seek and obtain various forms of financial aid despite having a criminal record. There are specific situations where a criminal conviction can still affect your ability to obtain financial assistance. These situations are discussed in detail below. If you have legal questions about your eligibility to receive student loans, then make sure that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney.
What Is an Expungement?
Expungements are the legal way to remove a criminal conviction from someone's public criminal record. In New Jersey, several types of criminal offenses can be expunged under new, expanded expungement laws that were enacted in 2021. Not all people are eligible to have their prior conviction(s) expunged, so it is important to ensure your eligibility before you start the process.
Some of New Jersey's newly enacted expungement laws include:
- The ability to seek an expungement if you have multiple convictions
- Shortening the waiting period to apply for expungement to five years for most eligible offenses
- The ability to seek an expungement of a marijuana-related conviction without any waiting period
Several other new expungement laws may apply to you. Your criminal conviction may have an effect on your ability to receive student loans. If you are interested in an expungement, then make sure to discuss your eligibility with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
What Types of Financial Aid Is Available to Students?
There are a few different types of financial aid that students can receive for their education; they include:
- Student Loans – This is money that a student borrows from the federal government or a private financial institution.
- Grants – This is money that is awarded for various reasons that does not have to be repaid.
- Scholarships – This is money that is awarded due to specific academic merit or talent.
- Work-Study – This is money for school that is earned through part-time work in a federal program.
- Aid for Military Families – This is money that is available for those serving in the military or part of a military family.
- Aid for International Study – This is money that is available for a student planning to study abroad.
It is important to know what aid you might qualify for and how the aid operates. Make sure you understand the parameters of any aid you receive, as you likely have repayment requirements that must start once you finish your education.
Can Drug Convictions Prevent Federal Financial Aid Eligibility?
No, having a drug conviction will not suspend or prevent your ability to receive federal financial aid. Your FAFSA application will ask whether you have any previous drug convictions and will require you to explain the incident in detail but having a conviction will not impact your ability to receive financial aid.
Can Incarceration Affect Financial Aid Eligibility?
Yes, being incarcerated can limit your ability to receive federal financial aid for school. If you are currently incarcerated in either a state or federal prison, then you cannot receive a Federal Pell Grant or a federal student loan. Once you are released from jail or prison, then your eligibility to receive federal financial aid is restored.
Can Probation or Parole Affect Financial Aid Eligibility?
No, being on probation or parole will not affect your financial aid eligibility. This means that you can receive federal financial student aid if you are currently on probation or parole. Certain situations involving sexual offenses can prevent your ability to receive a Federal Pell Grant.
Will I Be Asked Questions About Prior Criminal Convictions?
Yes, when you seek federal or private financial aid, you will be asked about your criminal history. If you can expunge any prior criminal convictions, then you can avoid having to discuss these matters on your applications because the convictions will no longer exist on your criminal record. Being untruthful on your application can cause your application to be denied.
Expungement Process in New Jersey
The best way to ensure that you have no issues with your ability to receive student aid is to seek an expungement if possible. The first requirement to have your prior conviction expunged is to file an expungement petition. This petition must include several pieces of information, including:
- Your date of birth
- When you were arrested
- Any applicable state laws
- Any applicable case numbers
- When you were convicted
- Your final sentence
- An affidavit that states that you are not currently facing criminal charges
Having an experienced attorney help you with your expungement will be your best move, and the following provides an overview of what is expected when seeking a New Jersey expungement. Early in the process, an expungement petition will need to be filed with the court. If there is no objection from any involved parties, and the prosecutor's office in particular, the court should grant your expungement. If the court does grant your expungement petition, then you will get a signed court order that confirms this. You must physically take this document to the appropriate state agencies to have your conviction removed from all public criminal databases. It is important to know that your conviction will remain on your record until you do this.
What Are the Benefits of Getting an Expungement?
Getting an expungement can come with several collateral benefits, such as restoring your gun rights and allowing you to seek all forms of federal and private financial assistance without issue. Having your conviction expunged can also help your job prospects and remove your name from public criminal databases and online records searches. If you have legal questions, then call us so we can help!
Why Hiring the Lento Law Firm Is the Right Choice
If you are curious about getting an expungement to clear a criminal conviction from your record, then make sure you have the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Having an attorney experienced in expungements on your side can help you prevent making common mistakes. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring attorney Joseph D. Lento is the right choice to help you prepare and file your expungement. You can also contact us online.