How Does a Conviction of a Drug Offense Impact My Aid Eligibility?

Students convicted of possession or sale of drugs a federal or state drug conviction can disqualify a student for Federal Student Aid (FSA) funds. Convictions only count if they were for an offense that occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving Title IV aid. A conviction that was reversed, set aside, or removed from the students record does not count, nor does one received when a juvenile, unless they were tried as an adult. If a student answers 'Yes' to the question on the FAFSA regarding conviction for possession or sale of illegal drugs, the Department of Education will send the student a worksheet. Based on the information provided on the worksheet will determine if the conviction will impact their eligibility for financial aid

The chart below illustrates the period of ineligibility for FSA funds, depending on whether the conviction was for sale or possession and whether the student had previous offenses. A conviction for sale of drugs includes convictions for conspiring to sell drugs. If the student was convicted of both possessing and selling illegal drugs, and the periods of ineligibility are different, the student will be ineligible for the longer period.

  Possession of illegal drugs Sale of illegal drugs
1st offense 1 year from date of conviction 2 years from date of conviction
2nd offense 2 years from date of conviction Indefinite period
3+ offenses Indefinite period  

Regaining Eligibility

Students may regain eligibility:

  • The day after the period of ineligibility ends.
  • When they successfully complete a qualified drug rehabilitation program.
  • If they pass two unannounced drug tests given by a qualified rehabilitation program.

Students denied eligibility for an indefinite period may regain eligibility:

  • Successfully completing a rehabilitation program as described below.
  • If a conviction is reversed, set aside, or removed from the students record so that fewer than two convictions for sale or three convictions for possession remain on the record.
  • In such cases, the nature and dates of the remaining convictions will determine when the student regains eligibility.
  • Passing two unannounced drug tests from a rehabilitation program.

Qualified Drug Rehabilitation Program

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 program.
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 federally or state-licensed hospital, health clinic, or medical doctor.

It is advised for students to contact the Department of Education if they have questions regarding drug conviction, rehabilitation program or other questions at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or visit their web site. If you are hearing impaired call the TTY line at 1-800-730-8913.