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College students abusing prescribed drugs could lose big

On behalf of Starbranch Law on Thursday, May 24, 2018.

For many young people, college is a time of experimentation. They will learn as much through their social encounters and personal mistakes in the years of higher education as they will in classes. College is when students learn to make wise decisions, provide for their own needs and focus on what matters most through trial and error. Sometimes, however, those errors can have a profound impact on the ability to finish an education.

For students facing criminal charges related to drugs, the consequences couldn’t be more serious. In addition to criminal penalties, they could face administrative actions by the school and a potential loss of financial aid if they get convicted or plead guilty. Some students may think prescribed drugs are a safer option, but they could face serious consequences if they get caught.

There are many popularly abused prescription drugs

Our country has an opioid and opiate addiction crisis. Dependence on prescribed pain medication can lead to buying medications on the unregulated black market or even transitioning to heroin over time. When people think about the abuse of prescribed medication, they probably think of pain medication first. While there is certainly a market for these pills on college campuses, they are far from the only popularly abused controlled substances.

Many college students abuse prescription stimulants, such as the drugs commonly prescribed to help people with ADD or ADHD focus in school. Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine are some of the most common and popular of these drugs. Students may also abuse or recreationally use sleeping pills, depressants like Xanax and even erectile dysfunction medication.

Getting caught possessing any of these drugs without a valid prescription is a crime in New Hampshire. So is buying or selling these drugs on the black market. Students who get caught selling or abusing prescription medication face a host of serious consequences.

Any drug conviction will end eligibility for federal student aid

Every year, college students and their parents must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly called the FAFSA. This application will look at income, background and other factors to determine how much your family can contribute toward the cost of your education.

One of the mandatory questions on the FAFSA is whether you have a criminal record related to drugs. Any sort of drug conviction, even a first time, misdemeanor possession charge, will disqualify the applicant from federal student aid. That means no grants, no federal work-study programs and no subsidized student loans. For many students this translates to the end of their higher education.

Preventing a drug conviction is the best way to avoid this situation. A thorough defense is necessary, and your family should remain open to all options that will help your college student avoid a guilty plea or conviction for a drug offense.

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Harry N. Starbranch
Harry Starbranch
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