Drug Convictions and Federal Student Aid (FSA) Eligibility

A federal or state drug conviction (but not a local or municipal conviction) can disqualify a student for Federal Student Aid (FSA) funds.

Convictions only count against a student for FSA eligibility purposes if they were for an offense that occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving FSA funds. They do not count if the offense was not during such a period, unless the student was denied federal benefits for drug trafficking by a federal or state judge.

A conviction that was reversed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record does not count, nor does one received when he or she was a juvenile, unless the student was tried as an adult.

The following chart reflects the periods of ineligibility for FSA funds, depending on whether the conviction was for sale or possession and whether the student had previous offenses:

 

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

 

If the conviction was for both possessing and selling illegal drugs, the student will be ineligible for the longer period.

A student regains FSA eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends; or when he or she successfully completes a qualified drug rehabilitation program that includes passing two unannounced drug tests given by such a program.

Students denied FSA eligibility for an indefinite period can regain eligibility after completing any of the following three options:

  1. Successfully completing a qualified drug rehabilitation program (as described below), or
  2. Having the conviction 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, or
  3. Successfully completing two unannounced drug tests which are part of a rehab program.

Standards for 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, or
  • Be qualified to receive payment directly or indirectly from a federal or state-licensed insurance company, or
  • Be administered or recognized by a federal, state, or local government agency or court, or
  • Be administered or recognized by a federally or state-licensed hospital, health clinic, or medical doctor.