Most people face the same consequences for a criminal charge. They risk incarceration, fines and possibly community service or probation.
Certain groups are also at risk of secondary consequences from criminal convictions. College students are one such group, as they face numerous possible negative consequences that other people charged with the same offenses would not.
What are some of the unique consequences college students face when charged with criminal offenses?
Enrollments and housing consequences
Many colleges have conduct codes that their students must follow. If the college or university has a zero-tolerance policy for criminal convictions, any criminal record could result in the end of someone’s enrollment at the school.
In cases where enrollment isn’t directly at risk, students may still have to face a disciplinary hearing that could place them on academic probation because of a criminal conviction. Additionally, those living in student housing may find themselves no longer eligible to remain in student housing.
Issues with financial aid
Students have to fill out Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) reporting their income and the income of their parents every year. One of the many questions on the FAFSA is whether someone has a criminal conviction on their record.
The nature of the offense will dictate the impact it has on someone’s eligibility for federal student aid. Even if the conviction doesn’t eliminate federal aid, it may impact eligibility for school-based or private scholarships.
Limitations on future employment and educational opportunities
Even if someone successfully completes College after a criminal conviction, their record will have a chilling effect on their other opportunities in life. A criminal record could be the deciding factor in whether or not someone gets an internship or an entry-level position at a company in their field. Criminal records could also hold back those interested in graduate studies.
Only by avoiding a conviction can a college student eliminate these risks. Parents worried about the future of their college students may want to help them respond appropriately to criminal charges so that they don’t undermine all of their future potential with one silly mistake now. Understanding the risks that college students face when charged with crimes can help them and their families make better decisions.