When your son or daughter leaves for college in Pennsylvania, you may have already discussed your expectations as far as his or her behavior in your absence. As anyone who has ever attended college can likely attest, however, temptation sometimes gets in the way of students’ best intentions, and at some point, your child may experiment with alcohol or drugs. If your child is receiving federal financial aid, however, a drug conviction can mean big trouble, because it can have a serious impact on his or her ability to retain that financial aid.

Per U.S. News & World Report, if your college student receives a conviction for any number of different drug-related crimes, it can cause him or her to lose access to financial aid for a set amount of time. The exact amount of time your son or daughter will be ineligible for financial aid depends on the type of drug crime committed. A first-time possession conviction, for example, will cause your son or daughter to lose financial aid access for a year, while second and third offense will lead to a two or three-year loss, respectively.

Convictions for drug possession are not the only drug crimes that can lead your child to lose access to financial aid. Convictions relating to selling drugs, or conspiring to sell drugs, can also impact eligibility. There is one caveat, however. For a drug conviction to affect financial aid, your son or daughter must have committed the crime while actively enrolled in school. If, for example, your child was arrested for drug possession over the summer, while he or she was not getting financial aid, a subsequent conviction should not impact financial aid.

While this information about potentially losing financial aid because of a drug conviction is educational, it is not a replacement for legal advice.