Financial Aid

Drug Conviction and Aid Eligibility

Drugs Don’t Pay

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

Federal aid includes:

  • Federal Pell and Federal SEOG grants 
  • Federal Work-Study 
  • Federal Perkins Loans
  • Direct Federal Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized)
  • Federal PLUS loans
  • Graduate PLUS loans

Students answering “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 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.

Convictions that are reversed, set aside or removed from a student’s record, or that occur during periods of nonenrollment, do not affect loan eligibility. Similarly, juvenile convictions do not affect eligibility unless that student was tried as an adult.

The period of ineligibility is dependent upon the type of conviction (sale or possession) and whether there were previous offenses. The chart below demonstrates the periods of ineligibility:

OffensePossession of Illegal DrugsSale of Illegal Drugs
FirstOne year from date of convictionTwo years from date of conviction
SecondTwo years from date of convictionIndefinite period
Third or moreIndefinite period 

Note: Students convicted of both selling and possessing illegal drugs will be ineligible for the longer period.

Regaining Eligibility

Students may regain eligibility when at least one of the following are met:

  • The day after the period of ineligibility ends.
  • They successfully complete a qualified drug-rehabilitation program.
  • After they pass two unannounced drug tests administered through a qualified rehabilitation program.

Students denied eligibility for an indefinite period may regain their eligibility status after meeting at least one of the following conditions:

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

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 a student ineligible for federal aid again.

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