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DUI conviction could affect your college chancesCollege admissions have never been more competitive. Students are doing more and more to dress up their applications and build their resumes to look good for the institutions they’re trying to impress. What to do if the college in question asks about arrests or criminal history? Will a DUI ruin your education plans? It all depends.

Do I Disclose My DUI?

If you have thoughts about not mentioning your DUI, forget it. You must disclose a DUI conviction if you are asked. Lying on a college application will lead to refusal if found out before admission, and expulsion if found out after. Even if you make it through four years, if the college finds out later, your degree could be rescinded. Lying on an application does not pay, especially since a DUI will not necessarily lead to your rejection.

If the college application does not ask you about arrests or convictions, you’re not under any obligation to mention it.

Turned Down for DUI?

Generally DUI convictions fall into two types, felony and misdemeanor, with the majority of them in the latter category. A one-time misdemeanor DUI will probably not be considered reason to turn down you application on its own. During your interview you can make the case that you’ve learned from your mistake and have changed your behavior.

A felony can be a greater challenge, but people with felony convictions do go to college. Multiple DUIs that are not felonies will also raise red flags to admissions officers. And professional schools (e.g. medicine and law) are highly competitive and can have more stringent requirements.

Financial Aid: Lost Opportunities?

Financial aid of some kind is vital for most families considering college.

Some federal student aid programs are withheld from people with criminal convictions, though not all. Here too it matters is if your DUI is a felony or misdemeanor conviction. Felony convictions make students ineligible for most federal student aid programs.

Other forms of financial aid can come from the college or university itself, or from private institutions. Those entities have their own rules, and they may or may not take your DUI into account when you apply to them.

The upshot: all is not lost if you have a DUI and want to go to college. Be honest, and show you’re back on the path of responsibility and good citizenship. Colleges are in the business of sussing out good character in their applicants. If you’ve done the work, you’ll get your chance at higher education.

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