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How DUIs Affect Financial Aid and Scholarships

Armando Nava

Research shows that 30% of college students drive after drinking alcohol. This choice can often lead to several consequences: accidents, injuries, and death. Even if an inebriated student manages to drive home unscathed, Arizona still has the toughest DUI laws in the nation. This means if you get pulled over intoxicated, you’re going to get dinged.

What college students may not realize is just how significant a DUI charge on their record is. It’s not a myth—students can miss out on financial aid and scholarships due to DUI charges. Here’s how.

Current Incarcerations

For individuals currently incarcerated due to a DUI charge, their eligibility for financial aid depends on whether they’re in jail or prison.

County Jail

  • Not eligible for federal student loans
  • May apply for a Pell Grant
  • May apply for Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant*
  • May apply for Federal Work Study*

*Schools are only allotted a certain amount of funds and may give priority to other students.

State or Federal Prison

  • Not eligible for a federal Pell Grant
  • Not eligible for federal student loans
  • May apply for Federal Supplemented Educational Opportunity Grant*
  • May apply for Federal Work-Study Grant**

*Grants are primary given to applicants who have Pell Grants

**Unlikely to work an appropriate job while incarcerated


Most federal student aid programs will not award grants to individuals with felony DUI convictions. In Arizona, felony DUIs are:

  • DUI with a minor under 15 in the vehicle
  • DUI with suspended driver’s license
  • DUI with 2 prior DUIs within the last 60 months


Many scholarships are provided by non-profit foundations or private individuals meaning they have the right to choose whether or not they award students who have DUI charges. Almost all require applicants to disclose their past convictions.

Are you a student who’s been charged with a DUI? Contact Nava Law before school starts in the fall. We’ll fight to get that charge off your record.

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