Don’t worry about the past

The decision to go back to school can be a lot like the decision to have kids. There’s a lot of talking, thinking, dreaming and planning involved, so don’t let your past decisions influence your future. Here are a few commonly asked questions.

Can I still get a student loan if I file or have filed for bankruptcy?

According to the federal financial aid center, bankruptcy does not affect one’s ability to get financial aid so long as the applicant is not in default on a previous federal student loan. So if there is no default, a record of a bankruptcy or being in the middle of a current bankruptcy will not prevent a student from getting federal financial aid.

I have defaulted on a student loan. Am i eligible for additional title iv aid so that i may return to school?

Even if you have defaulted on a student loan, you are eligible to receive any school-based aid, just not Title IV funds. To re-establish eligibility for Title IV aid. you have two options:

Rehabilitate Your Loan

Contact your loan holder to arrange a payment schedule on which you must make nine on-time, in-full monthly payments within a 10-month time period. You will regain eligibility after that 10-month period. You may use the rehabilitation option only once to restore eligibility for Title IV funds.

Consolidate Your Loans

If you have multiple loans, contact the U.S. Department of Education at loanconsolidation.ed.gov or (800) 557-7392 to consolidate (group together and pay off) your defaulted loans with a new consolidation loan. This process can take up to three months. You will regain eligibility for Title IV aid once your consolidation loan has been processed.

Can i apply to college if I’ve been convicted of a felony?

Yes. Do not delay applying for college because you have a felony conviction. While most college applications ask if you have ever been convicted of a felony, the admission committee uses this as only one factor when considering acceptance. You may be required to submit a further explanation about your conviction or appear in person for an interview with the admissions committee. Remember, answering honestly is the best policy. False or misleading answers on a college application can be reason for refusal of admission or expulsion after admittance. If a further explanation of a felony conviction is required, you should include the specifics of the felony, including charges filed and date of occurrence. You may have to sign releases so the school can receive your criminal history from the Department of Corrections. Parole information including names and addresses of parole officers should also be included. If you are currently in parole status, include the conditions of your parole and any specific services you may need.

If you were convicted of a felony as a juvenile in juvenile court, your answer may be different. Before deciding how to answer the question, you should check with the college admissions office and an attorney, if possible. Juvenile records are generally sealed and may therefore alter how you answer a felony conviction question.

If you have been arrested and charged with a felony and not yet convicted, you do not have to answer “yes,” but in the interest of full disclosure, you should notify the school upon your conviction. If you are not convicted, a notification will not be necessary.

If you are seeking financial aid, your school will require you to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which asks if you have been convicted of a felony. Based on the type of felony, you may not be eligible for Title IV aid. Please contact the financial aid office at your designated institution for more information.

*Applicants should also be aware that an individual with a felony conviction might not be able to obtain licensure in certain professions. This is why notifying the school of a conviction is so important. If the school does not know, the student can complete an education for a profession and be unable to obtain licensure or certification and therefore be unable to work in that profession. This leads to a greater risk of default on any student loan(s) that student held.