DUI and College Admissions

Getting admitted into the college of one’s choice can be a challenge.  In addition to submitting essays and letters of reference, colleges may ask for information regarding arrests and criminal history.  A Driving Under the Influence (DUI) conviction is something that could result in getting denied admission to one’s dream college.

There are two kinds of DUI convictions: misdemeanor and felony.  Most first-time DUI convictions are misdemeanors.  A DUI becomes a felony based upon a few factors.  A DUI may get upgraded to a felony charge based upon blood alcohol level at the time of arrest, prior convictions, or if the DUI resulted in an injury or death.  While every state limits the blood alcohol level for a DUI to 0.08 percent, they don’t all penalize a DUI the same way.  Because of that, there is no way to definitely say when a DUI charge will be considered a misdemeanor or a felony.

Regardless of what type of DUI one has, the conviction can have long-lasting effects.  If a college application asks for information regarding arrests and convictions, it is best to be honest about having a DUI.  A one-time offense may not be considered a reason to deny an application, especially if the student is willing to prove a change in attitude and behavior by completing a drug and alcohol program.  In some cases, the dishonesty about having a DUI conviction or arrest will result in an admission denial, not the DUI itself.  However, multiple DUI arrests and convictions are definitely considered grounds for a university to deny admission, as this pattern reveals a lot about the character of the applicant.

While actually getting admitted into college is often a big enough stressor in a student’s life, many also have the extra concern of how to pay for their education.  Financial aid is another area of the college admission process that can be negatively impacted by DUI convictions.  A felony DUI conviction is a reason for many federal financial aid programs to deny assistance to students.  Privately offered scholarships may also be affected by a DUI arrest or conviction.  The requirements for different financial aid options vary and it is the applicant’s responsibility to qualify for the aid and also divulge all requested information.  There are scholarships available for college applicants who have a DUI arrest record, so it is important to be honest and hopeful.

DUI arrests and convictions can add another level of uncertainty to a college applicant’s life.  Universities and colleges set their own rules for how they deal with the criminal background of potential students.  In addition, financial aid options may be limited due to DUI arrests and convictions.  Although a DUI arrest or conviction may make the college application process more challenging, there are opportunities available for anyone who is willing to put in the work.