When your child leaves for college, you may feel a wide range of emotions. You may feel proud, for example, that he or she got to this point in his or her academic career, but you may, too, feel uneasy about how he or she might behave in your absence. Unfortunately, it is incredibly common for college students to experiment, party and do things they have never done before once they get to school, but in some cases, doing so can jeopardize your child’s ability to continue to receive a college education.

How? If your college student is currently attending school with the help of federal financial aid and he or she winds up with an arrest and subsequent conviction for a drug-related state or federal crime, that federal aid may disappear.

Virtually all drug convictions can jeopardize financial aid.

Most types of drug convictions at the state or federal levels may impact your college student’s ability to remain a financial aid recipient. However, certain factors may determine just how long he or she is ineligible for financial assistance. Whether your college student is a first-time drug offender is one factor that may impact the length of his or her ineligibility period. The severity of the drug crime is another, with more serious drug crimes, such as crimes involving drug sales, typically leading to longer periods of ineligibility than, say, personal possession convictions.

When the arrest takes place matters.

To lose access to federal financial assistance, your child had to be a current recipient of it, meaning drug arrests that occurred before school started may not impact eligibility at all. If your child’s drug arrest took place during his or her school’s homecoming festivities, he or she may become ineligible for financial assistance for at least a year if that arrest ultimately resulted in a conviction.

Your child worked hard to get into school, and a one-off mistake might potentially mean the difference between graduating on time or even graduating at all. Make sure your college student is aware of just how high the stakes are should he or she experiment with drugs while in college.