Drug Convictions and Financial Aid Eligibility

According to federal regulations, students convicted for a drug offense while they were receiving federal financial aid may lose eligibility for federal aid, including Pell Grants, Direct Loans and Work-Study jobs.

Students who answer "Yes" to the question on the FAFSA regarding conviction for possession or sale of  illegal drugs will be sent a worksheet by the Federal Processing Center to determine if the conviction affects aid eligibility. Should the Financial Aid Office be notified that a student has been convicted of selling or possessing illegal drugs, financial assistance will be suspended immediately.

If a conviction was reversed, set aside or removed from a student's record, it does not count. Convictions occurring during periods of non-enrollment also do not count. In addition, any conviction received as a juvenile does not count, unless the student was tried as an adult.

The period of aid ineligibility depends on the type of conviction (sale or possession) and if there were previous offenses.

 
Drug possession
Drug sales
First offense
1 year from date of conviction
2 years from date of conviction
Second offense
2 years from date of conviction
Indefinite period
Third and subsequent offenses
Indefinite period
Indefinite 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 by meeting either of the following requirements:

  • The day after the period of ineligibility ends
  • Successfully completing a qualified drug rehabilitation program that includes two unannounced drug tests

Students denied financial aid eligibility for an indefinite period can regain it after meeting either of the following requirements:

  • Successfully completing a qualified drug rehabilitation program and pass two unannounced drug tests from such a program
  • Have the conviction reversed, set aside or removed from the student's record so that fewer than two convictions for selling drugs or three convictions for possessing drugs remain on the record

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

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 federal- 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

NOTE: It is the student's responsibility to certify to the school that he or she has successfully completed the rehabilitation program.