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Drug possession charges have additional academic consequences

No college student heads off to school in the fall expecting to face drug charges, but it is a reality that many students end up confronting. In addition to the threat of criminal charges, schools have their own strict penalties, sometimes resulting in dismissal of a student with no refund of any tuition paid, for drug use or possession.

Academic consequences

Upon admission, students agree to follow a school's code of conduct. The rules differ slightly between institutions, but in general students are expected to be upstanding citizens while enrolled. Failure to follow the school rules can result in any of the following:

· Loss of campus housing: When a student signs an on campus living agreement, they are agreeing to the school's code of conduct policy and sacrifice privacy rights. University staff can visually search a student's room upon reasonable suspicion of rule violation. Possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia can result in the loss of campus housing. Also, any payments made towards the housing may not be refundable.

· Suspension and academic probation: Drug use or possession violates the student code of conduct for most universities. Depending on the charge, a student may be suspended from the school. In other cases, the charges may lead to academic probation. Students on probation are generally ineligible to play on sports teams and participate in other extracurricular activities.

· Loss of scholarships and financial aid: A criminal charge jeopardizes scholarships and financial aid awards. Students convicted of a drug-related offense after submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) often lose eligibility and may need to return any aid already awarded. Students can regain eligibility for federal aid by completing an approved drug rehabilitation program or by passing two unscheduled drug tests.

Academic charges may be applied concurrently with civil and criminal charges. As with penalties and sentences for drug possession, academic penalties vary depending on the severity. A drug charge can carry serious future ramifications, such as difficulty finding employment and housing later on. Working with a defense attorney is strongly recommended in order to reach the most favorable outcome.

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