Implications for Scholarships, Student Loans and Financial Aid

Getting into college takes a lot of work. You spent years studying, doing homework, taking tests, participating in extracurriculars, and polishing the essays that earned you your acceptance letter. If you won scholarships, you spent even more time proving yourself to be the most worthy applicant. You gathered all the financial documents, completed and submitted all the forms, and met every requirement necessary to sit where you sit now—an undergraduate at a higher education institution.

But all of that can disappear with just an accusation.

Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, often referred to as just “Title IX”, is a federal law that bars discrimination based on sex in education. It applies to colleges and universities, along with primary and secondary schools.

The text of the clause reads, “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Most people know about Title IX because it requires equal funding in sports for men and women. During the Obama Administration, Title IX usage was expanded to help schools deal discourage campus sexual assault. In the years since 2011, when the Obama Administration issued the so-called “Dear Colleague” letter that changed how colleges and universities were supposed to handle allegations, there have been hundreds of instances of Title IX being applied in situations where the accused was not actually guilty, and in many of these cases, the accused has been denied due process rights.

The Trump Administration, under Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, has sought to remedy some of the previous overreach by proposing new rules. Under DeVos' new rules, some of the definitions have been changed so that the offensive conduct must be clearer and more offensive in order to be acted upon, and the impact on the victim must be more obvious. The DeVos rules also add in new measures to provide greater due process rights to the accused. These include the right for the accused to be accompanied by a lawyer, a right which was not previously allowed.

The impact on colleges is that the new policy, when it is implemented, will limit the type of complaints schools are required to investigate. Under the new rules, colleges are told only to pursue cases that are reported to certain campus officials, and the rules say schools can choose whether or not to handle cases that occur in off-campus areas.

However, the rules are still new and it remains to be seen how they will work in practice and how individual institutions will implement them.

Other Offenses

Title IX offenses aren't the only offenses that can derail an educational career. Any number of offenses, intentional or accidental, can abruptly change your educational path and possibly even your life path if you don't handle these issues quickly and responsibly.

Academic offenses include, but are not limited to:

· Plagiarism

· Cheating on a test

· Misrepresenting your work

· Getting unauthorized help with an assignment

· Falsifying sources for a paper or assignment

· Submitting the same assignment for different classes

· Sabotaging the work of others

Disciplinary charges include, but are not limited to:

· Underage drinking

· Buying alcohol for someone underage

· Hazing

· Using drugs

· Theft

Any of these violations of the student code of conduct can lead to disciplinary action by the institution, which can include expulsion. That disciplinary action has the potential to change the status of your enrollment at the school, and that has the potential to completely alter the plan you have for yourself. You do not want to face these circumstances alone.

Impact on Scholarships and Student Aid

You worked extremely hard to get the scholarships and financial aid you have, and you may not be in a position to continue attending school without them.

If you're a college student who has been arrested, you have more to worry about than just going to criminal court and dealing with the charges. Getting in trouble as a student means you may not only face criminal charges, as anyone else would, but you also may face discipline at the university level, and that could result in suspension or expulsion. Not only that, but an arrest and a disciplinary suspension can have serious consequences on your financial aid or scholarships.

According to federal law, if you receive a conviction in criminal court for a drug charge, you will be ineligible for financial aid for a period of time. That means, not only can you not go to the school you have been attending, you may be ineligible to use financial aid at any school.

Likewise, an arrest or conviction could impact any scholarships you're currently receiving, depending on the terms of the scholarships or grants. Many academic and athletic scholarships have requirements about student behavior and require that student who violates those terms forfeits the scholarship.

Second, a university disciplinary charge could also result in a suspension. In many situations, suspensions are put in place immediately, even in the middle of a semester, when your tuition has already been paid. Most financial aid programs require that a student be currently enrolled and progressing academically. If you are suspended, you can't meet this qualification. The result is that if you are suspended from school, you will likely lose your current financial aid.