Federal Student Financial Aid Penalties for Drug Violations

Students who are currently enrolled and are completing the FAFSA will be asked: "Have you been convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid?"

If you answer "Yes," you will be asked an additional series of questions to determine if the conviction affects your eligibility for federal student aid.

If you have been convicted of a federal or state offense of selling or possessing illegal drugs that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid you should still complete and submit the FAFSA to determine if there is aid for which they are still eligible. If you leave question 23 blank, you cannot receive federal financial aid until you respond by making a correction to your FAFSA.

If you have been convicted of possession or sale of illegal drugs loses Title IV eligibility for a period of time specified in law. The period of ineligibility depends on whether the conviction was for possession or sale of (including conspiring to sell) illegal drugs.

For convictions involving possession, the periods of ineligibility are as follows:

  • One conviction: one year after the date of conviction.
  • Two convictions: two years after the date of the second conviction.
  • Three or more convictions: indefinite from the date of the third conviction

For convictions involving sale, the periods of ineligibility are as follows:

  • One conviction: two years after the date of conviction.
  • Two or more convictions: indefinite from the date of the second conviction.

A federal or state drug conviction can disqualify a student for federal financial aid.

Convictions only count if they were for an offense that occurred during a period of enrollment for which you were receiving Title IV aid—they do not count if the offense was not during such a period. Also, a conviction that was reversed, set aside, or removed from the your record does not count, nor does one received when you were a juvenile, unless the student was tried as an adult.

Regaining Eligibility

You regain eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends or when you successfully complete a qualified drug rehabilitation program. Further drug convictions will make the you ineligible again.

If your Title IV eligibility has been suspended indefinitely, you may regain eligibility only by successfully completing a drug rehabilitation program. If you are under a one- or two-year penalty, you may regain eligibility before the expiration of the period of ineligibility by successfully completing a drug rehabilitation program. If you successfully complete an approved drug rehabilitation program, eligibility is regained on the date you successfully completes the program. It is your responsibility to certify to the school that you have successfully completed the rehabilitation program.

To qualify you for eligibility, the drug rehabilitation program must include at least two unannounced drug tests, and:

  • have received or be qualified to receive funds directly or indirectly under a Federal, State, or local government program; or
  • be administered or recognized by a Federal, State, or local government agency or court; or
  • have received or be qualified to receive payment directly or indirectly from a Federally- or State-licensed insurance company; or
  • be administered or recognized by a Federally- or State-licensed hospital, health clinic or medical doctor.