Georgia Hope Scholarship Disqualification - What You And Your Student Age Child Need To Know:
Your Federal and State Scholarships and Grants Could be in Jeopardy:
Are you currently studying at a state university or college? Do you rely on financial aid from the federal Pell grant or the Georgia HOPE Scholarship? Were you recently accused of drug possession or DUI? Before you plead guilty to felony drug charges or DUI, consult with an attorney. In all likelihood, you are at risk of losing your financial assistance from the HOPE Scholarship program and any federal loan or grant, as well as many other penalties from your college or university.
Georgia HOPE Scholarship Requirements and Disqualifications:
Not only is the Georgia HOPE scholarship tracking students' academic records for eligibility, the Georgia-lottery-funded program is also tracking students' criminal records for ineligibility. Students looking to receive the HOPE scholarship are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA and maintain active enrollment in a HOPE eligible college. Additionally, the requirements include student's compliance with the Drug-free Postsecondary Education Act of 1990 which states that any student who pleads guilty to a felony offense involving marijuana, controlled substances, or any dangerous drug is in noncompliance with the Georgia HOPE Scholarship requirements. Conviction of a drug offense will result in the revocation of a student's HOPE scholarship and renders the recipient ineligible for the scholarship in future school terms.
This law may also impact HOPE recipients if they have been convicted of a DUI. Fortunately for some students, a DUI charge on the first offense is only a misdemeanor. However, upon your fourth DUI conviction, within a 10-year period, the charge becomes a felony offense and it renders the recipient ineligible for the HOPE scholarship. The fourth offense rule is not the only concern students should have when convicted of a DUI. DUI misdemeanors likely result in other related charges once officers have searched the vehicle during an arrest. Possession charges are a common result of these searches. These felony DUI and possession charges result in a non-compliance with the Drug-free Postsecondary Education Act and thus restrict the student from HOPE scholarship eligibility.
Federal Loan and Grant Requirements:
This Georgia Drug-free act is reflective of the Federal Student Financial Aid Requirements. FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is tracking drug related offenses, almost identically to Georgia's requirements. FASFA handicaps a student's eligibility for financial aid if they have been convicted of a drug related felony. This affects both the Pell Grant and federal student loans. Different from the Georgia HOPE requirements, eligibility is only affected if the student was receiving federal student aid during the time of the offense. Students, who are in the process of applying for federal financial aid but have not been awarded any funds, are still subject to these strict limitations on eligibility. On the other hand, this does not affect students who were not receiving, or applying to receive, federal aid funds at the time of the offense.
When does a felony possession of Drugs or DUI conviction affect the Georgia HOPE Scholarship?
For Georgia's HOPE Scholarship program, a felony conviction could affect the student's scholarship eligibility as soon as the current school term. The Drug-free Education Act states that's the denial of state funds shall be effective as of the first day of the term, quarter, semester or other similar period for which the student was enrolled immediately following the date of conviction. This date begins on the date of convictions, pleas of nolo contendre, or the start of first offender treatment. Ineligibility could remain for up to an entire school year from that term. After a year without financial aid, a student will be eligible to reapply for future school term scholarship.
Federal financial student aids, such as the Pell Grant have strict requirements for regaining eligibility. Federal requirements categorized the affected felons into two categories: those who were convicted for possession of drugs and those convicted for the sale or distribution of drugs. For a possession conviction, on the first offense, students are ineligible for federal student aid for one year from the date of conviction. For a second offense, the student is ineligible for aid for two years. On the third possession offense, a student is rendered ineligible for an indefinite period of time.
Felony offenses for the sale of drugs renders a harsher outcome for students receiving federal aid. On the first offense, a student is ineligible for federal financial aid for two years. By the second offense, the student is ineligible indefinitely. Felons can overcome these indefinite limitations by entering into and completing an approved drug rehabilitation program and passing two random drug tests.
What Position Do the Universities Take on Student Crimes?
The scholarship ineligibility imposed by the Drug-free Education Act specifies that it is only a “minimum penalty” to be imposed and that public and private educational institutions are free to impose their own sanctions on criminal activity. State colleges and universities will most likely impose their own sanctions or disciplinary actions; this could result in financial aid revocation for crimes lesser than those affected by the state and federal financial aid requirements.
In an effort to encourage good decision-making, state universities, such as the University of Georgia, impose their own disciplinary actions on their students. School disciplinary actions can result in unsatisfactory academic standing, which leads to the loss of HOPE scholarship and Pell Grant. UGA’s Alcohol and Drug Policy states: “. . . sanctions for violations of the student conduct regulations may include alcohol and other drug (AOD) education, probation, community service, suspension, and/or expulsion.” The policy furthers their goal of encouraging good decision-making by requiring students to report their criminal convictions to the school. The school policy also reveals that they receive updates on their students' off-campus criminal activities from local law enforcement. Given the population of the school, in relation to the community, the school asserts a duty to the community to maintain knowledge and control on their students' criminal activities. The university is free to impose their own sanctions for off-campus criminal activity and according to their policy, they will.
University sanctions are not limited to felony convictions. Students convicted of a DUI are required to report their criminal happenings to the school's Board of Student Conduct. As a result, sanctions imposed by the school may include the student receiving an “unsatisfactory” academic standing with the university. Poor academic standing will render the student ineligible for the HOPE Scholarship and any federal student financial aid.
Students convicted of drug related crimes have much to lose academically and financially. Before pleading guilty to these charges, consult with an attorney to determine the likelihood of ineligibility to receive the Georgia HOPE Scholarship, Pell Grant, or federal school loans.
We Can Help When Your University Age Child Is At Risk Of Losing The Georgia Hope Scholarship:
The hope scholarship is not only a valuable economic benefit but is also indicative of a young person with a bright future. Young people make mistakes, and those mistakes can have lifetime consequences. The legal system in Georgia can be unforgiving. We are committed to giving our clients a second chance because no young person should suffer a lifetime of consequences for a moment of foolishness. Call today. We are here 24/7 to answer your questions and help save not only your child's Hope Scholarship but their very future as well.