Drug Convictions & Financial Aid Eligibility

According to federal regulations, students convicted for a drug offense that occurred during a period of enrollment while they were receiving Title IV Federal Financial Aid may lose eligibility for Federal Aid.

Federal Aid includes the following:

  • Federal Pell and SEOG Grants
  • Federal Work Study
  • Federal Perkins Loan
  • Federal Direct Loan
  • Federal Plus Loan
  • Graduate Plus Loan

If a student answers ‘Yes’ to the question on the FAFSA, regarding conviction for possession or sale of illegal drugs, they will be sent a worksheet by the federal processing center in order to determine if the conviction affects eligibility for aid.  Should the financial aid office be notified that a student has been convicted of sale or possession of illegal drugs, the financial assistance will be suspended immediately.

If a conviction was reversed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record, it does not count.  Convictions occurring during periods of non-enrollment do not count.  In addition, any conviction received as a juvenile does not count, unless they were tried as an adult.  The period of ineligibility is dependent upon the type of conviction (sale or possession) and if there were previous offenses.  The chart below demonstrates the periods of ineligibility for FSA funds:

 Possession of Illegal DrugsSale of Illegal Drugs
1st offense1 year from date of conviction2 years from date of conviction
2nd offense2 years from date of convictionIndefinite period
3+ offensesIndefinite period 

If the student was convicted of both selling and possessing illegal drugs, and the periods of ineligibility are different, the student will be ineligible for the longer period.

Regaining Eligibility

The student may regain eligibility:

  • The day after the period of ineligibility ends, OR
  • When he or she-successfully completes a qualified drug rehabilitation program-that includes two unannounced drug tests
  • Students denied financial aid eligibility for an indefinite period can regain it after:
  • Successfully completing a rehabilitation program-and pass-two unannounced drug tests from such a program, or
  • Have the conviction-reversed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record so that fewer than two convictions for sale or three convictions for possession remain on the record.
  • Successfully complete two unannounced drug tests which are part of the rehab program.

Standards for a Qualified Drug Rehabilitation Program

A qualified drug rehabilitation program must include at least two unannounced drug tests and must satisfy at least one of the following requirements:

  • Be qualified to receive funds directly or indirectly from a federal, state, or local government
  • Be qualified to receive payment directly or indirectly from a federally or state-licensed insurance company
  • Be administered or recognized by a federal, state, or local government agency or court
  • Be administered or recognized by a federal or state-licensed hospital, health clinic or medical doctor.

Additional drug convictions will make the student ineligible for federal aid again.

It is the student’s responsibility to certify to the school that they have successfully completed the rehabilitation progam.