If you attend the University of Wisconsin or another four-year school, you likely know how expensive obtaining a bachelor’s degree can be. Fortunately, government-backed loans, grants and work-study programs may be available to help you cover your academic costs.

To know whether you are eligible for government assistance, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If you have a conviction for possessing or selling a controlled substance, you must disclose it on the FAFSA.

A suspension of student aid

Convictions for both possessing and selling drugs often result in suspensions of federal student aid. The length of the suspension, though, depends on the nature of the offense and whether you have other drug-related convictions.

Generally, a first-time conviction for possessing a controlled substance triggers a one-year suspension of student aid. A first-time conviction for a sales offense typically results in a two-year suspension.

Subsequent offenses for either selling or possessing drugs may eventually cause an indefinite suspension of financial assistance.

A chance at redemption

If you receive government aid in error, you may have to repay it. Otherwise, you may need to look for other funding options until your suspension period lapses.

On the other hand, you may not have to wait until your suspension period runs. If you want to redeem your government-backed financial aid, you may complete a drug rehabilitation program. Alternatively, you may successfully pass two surprise drug tests.

Because this path to redemption may be challenging, you may be better off avoiding a criminal conviction altogether.