The college admissions scandal and its legal ramifications are taking a real toll on Lori Loughlin.
A source tells ET that the Full House alum's "anxiety is through the roof, she is terrified, and she's been consumed with trying to put on a happy face but it's not easy under the circumstances."
While fellow actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison and fined $30,000 after pleading guilty to paying $15,000 to have a proctor fix SAT questions that her daughter, 19-year-old Sophia, incorrectly answered, Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, pleaded not guilty to charges of allegedly paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters, 19-year-old Olivia and 20-year-old Bella, admitted to the University of Southern California as recruits for the crew team, even though neither had ever participated in the sport. This, of course, begs a number of questions concerning the severity of the sentence the couple could face, if convicted at their upcoming trial.
"The college scandal has been the biggest challenge of Lori's life," the source tells ET. "She never imagined her public persona would plummet or she could face jail time. This has affected every aspect of her life."
The source explains that, over time, the ordeal has brought Loughlin closer with her family as they attempt to weather the media storm surrounding her and Giannulli's legal troubles.
"What started as Olivia cutting herself off from her mother has been a complete turnaround," the source says. "Both girls have joined together because they both feel their mother only wanted the best for them. Her daughters are now much closer than they have ever been. At first when the news broke, it felt like her family life imploded, but the family has joined together and have built a united front. They are there for her and each other."
"Lori has been trying to stay positive and resolved herself to the fact she's a good person that meant no wrong and that she made the right decision to share an attorney with her husband and not take a plea," the source adds.
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During a court appearance in August, the judge in their trial allowed Loughlin and Giannulli to share the same attorneys.
"I think, given the circumstances of what they're up against with the trial, it's probably the smartest strategy they have yet because jurors would have to believe both of them are lying," lawyer Rachel Stockman previously told ET.
Although there's a great deal at stake, the source says Loughlin "hopes when the judge hears her story, she will beat the charges. Her friends have remained optimistic for her yet it's been very difficult not to second guess everything, and she's had many sleepless nights."
The source continues: "Lori is sticking with her story that she and her husband were scammed by Rick Singer [the alleged mastermind behind the scandal]. She has claimed to friends that they always thought the money was going to a charity through the school. She says she doesn't feel for one minute they were breaking the law."
According to the source, "the family is ready for their next step in life. They have been living under a dark cloud for far too long, and are ready for answers."
Loughlin and Giannulli's next court date is Wednesday, however, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts, the "defendant is not required to attend."