Your teenager’s trajectory may differ from the one you had set them on. Bright and talented, you likely expected that they would be college-bound. Yet, they may have experienced challenges that have prevented them from thriving in the way you had hoped. If your teenager has had difficulty coping with these, they may have acted out in ways that caused them to receive criminal charges – which may have led to conviction.

If your teenager still plans to pursue postsecondary education, their record could impact the admissions process. Yet, it will not bar them outright from attending college – or from a fulfilling future.

How colleges look at legal issues

Many colleges will ask about your teenager’s criminal history during the application process. They may worry that disclosing it will disqualify them from admission. But the odds of their acceptance will likely depend on the rest of their application. Some schools may reject your teenager outright based on their record. Yet, many others will follow up with them about it if their application seems promising otherwise. The essay portion of your teenager’s college applications also gives them an opportunity to address their record and discuss what they have learned from their mistakes.

How legal issues impact financial aid

Your teenager may have greater difficulty securing financial aid than being admitted to the college of their choice. Not every criminal offense will make them ineligible for federal student aid. Yet, your teenager may have committed a drug offense where their charges led to conviction. In this case, their eligibility for federal student aid will be suspended. Yet, your teenager can regain their eligibility by completing an approved rehabilitation program or by passing two random drug tests administered by an approved program.

Many parents think their teenagers’ legal problems will prevent them from attending college. Yet, there is a strong chance yours will be able to pursue postsecondary education, depending on the nature of their offense. An attorney can help you understand your best path forward given your teenager’s unique circumstances.