10 Ways Criminal Charges Affect College Students

Having a criminal record can significantly damage a person’s future. Unless the record has been sealed or expunged, convicts might have issues in their daily lives, including when trying to rent an apartment or find a job as well as going to school, since a criminal record can be harmful to college students

A person with a criminal record or charged with a felony can still go to college. But, at some colleges, background checks are standard procedure. Having a criminal record might lower the likelihood of acceptance. The impact of a criminal record will depend on school policies and the nature of the offenses.

In addition to the possibility of having their application rejected, a criminal record can have other consequences for college students. Below you will find further information about how a criminal record can affect your college life.  

Do Colleges Accept People with Criminal Records? 

Even though there might be some limitations when it comes to choosing a school, a person with a past criminal record can still attend college. However, the chances of acceptance depend on the school’s policies as well as the type of offense committed. 

In fact, a study conducted in 2018 by AACRAO showed that approximately a quarter of the institutions interviewed automatically reject applicants with a violent or sexual offense on their record. Despite these numbers, it’s important to keep in mind that each institution has its own policies and requirements. 

According to the same study, asking for criminal history information is part of the application process of 81% percent of private and 55% of public four-year colleges. So if you’ve been charged with an offense, you should not lie about your record because you could hurt your chances of getting accepted.  

Convicted felons have the freedom to pursue any degree they may like. Nevertheless, depending on their field as well as their past offense, they may face some difficulties when applying to a university or college and subsequently when trying to find a job. 

How Criminal Charges Affect College Students

According to the Center for Community Alternatives, two-thirds of colleges collect criminal justice information on applicants and students. In Florida, certain programs at the University of South Florida (such as the College of Pharmacy and the College of Medicine) require a criminal background check as a prerequisite for admission. Check with your school and program for more specific details. 

Some common ways that criminal charges may affect students include:

  1. The college might deny you admission.
  2. It might rescind its admission offer.
  3. Your reputation at school, in the community, and at your job could suffer irreparable harm.
  4. You might have a difficult time finding student housing or an on-campus job.
  5. The school might place you on probation.
  6. You could be kicked out of student groups, be removed from student boards, and be forced to resign from sports teams.
  7. You might be denied or lose financial aid.
  8. You might have to attend drug counseling or anger management counseling or perform community service.
  9. You could have to attend a meeting with the university judicial board and answer questions about the alleged charges against you and how they violate the school’s code of student conduct.
  10. You could face expulsion or suspension.

University or College Sanctions for Criminal Charges

If you are facing or have been convicted of criminal charges in Florida – whether the incident happened on or off campus – you could be subject to discipline and sanctions by your school. 

The measurements taken against a student can range from suspension or expulsion. The determination of these sanctions will depend on the college or university’s policies as well as the severity of the accusations that the student is facing. 

Students are entitled to have an “advisor” or representative with them as they navigate the college’s or university’s disciplinary process. If you will be making a statement or attending a hearing, a criminal defense attorney can provide you with legal advice.

Examples of How Colleges & Universities Deal with Criminal Records

Below describes how two post-secondary education institutions – the University of South Florida and Eckerd College – handle students admissions and current students who have been charged with criminal offenses.


If you violate the Student Code of Conduct, you will receive a letter from the OSRR informing you of the review process or informing you of a provisional suspension. Here is how the process goes:

  • If you are not suspended, you will schedule an initial review meeting. The university will impose sanctions or drop the case.
  • If you are suspended, an emergency meeting will decide to drop the suspension and case; drop the suspension but not the case; or keep both.
  • You can then request a formal hearing, where an Administrative Hearing Officer or University Conduct Board (your choice) will uphold or dismiss the university charges; sanctions may be more or less severe than at the initial review.
  • You may then appeal the formal hearing decision.

Eckerd College 

The college will review any alleged violations of its policy (found in the EC-Book) and decide whether to investigate further or accuse you of a violation. If it decides that your conduct constitutes a violation, it will refer your case for a hearing.

  • You will receive notice and must respond to the complaint by contacting the Office of Community Standards and may attend a meeting to review the complaint against you.
  • If you receive an interim suspension or action against you, you can appeal the decision.
  • You may then be subject to a hearing. There are several types of hearing forums (Conduct Conference, Student Community Standards Board, Conduct Hearing, Conduct Review Committee).
  • Students receive notice of the outcome of their hearing, which may include any sanctions.
  • Students can then request a Final Review (appeal) if they do not agree with the outcome of the hearing.

Protect Your Future: Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

A criminal record can have a negative impact on a person’s life, including being able to apply to and attend college or university. Depending on the circumstances of the charges, in some cases, it’s possible to reduce your penalties and avoid conviction. If you want to know your legal options, schedule a free consultation with a defense lawyer. 

Goldman Wetzel is a criminal defense law firm that represents clients facing criminal charges in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Bradenton, Sarasota, Tampa, Pinellas County, and surrounding areas. Contact us today via secure email form or call us at (727) 828-3900 to know your legal options.