Federal Student Financial Aid Penalties for Drug Law Violations

Loss of Eligibility Due to a Drug Conviction

A student, who is convicted of a state or federal offense involving the possession or sale of an illegal drug that occurred while the student was enrolled in school and receiving Title IV aid, is not eligible for Title IV funds. [An illegal drug is a controlled substance as defined by the Controlled Substance Act and does not include alcohol and tobacco.]

A borrower's eligibility is based on the student's self-certification on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Convictions that are reversed, set aside or removed from the student's record, or a determination arising from a juvenile court proceeding do not affect eligibility and do not need to be reported by the student.

A student who is convicted of a drug-related offense that occurred while the student was enrolled in school and receiving Title IV aid loses Title IV eligibility as follows:

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 from date of 2nd conviction
3+ Offenses Indefinite period from date of 3rd conviction  

Regaining Eligibility After a Drug Conviction

A student regains eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends or when he successfully completes a qualified drug rehabilitation program that includes passing two unannounced drug tests given by such a program. Further drug convictions will again make him ineligible.

Students denied eligibility for an indefinite period can regain it, either after successfully completing a rehabilitation program (as described below, which includes passing two unannounced drug tests from such a program), or if a conviction is 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. In such cases, the nature and dates of the remaining convictions will determine when the student regains eligibility. It is the student’s responsibility to certify with the financial aid office that she has successfully completed the rehabilitation program.

Standards for a Qualified Drug Rehabilitation Program

A qualified drug rehabilitation program must include at least two unan­nounced drug tests and 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.
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