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Penalties for Drug Law Violations

Federal Student Financial Aid Penalties for Drug Law Violations

Federal regulations state that a student who has been convicted of an offense under any federal or state law involving the possession or sale of a controlled substance during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving financial aid shall not be eligible to receive any federal or institutional grant, loan or work assistance during the period beginning on the date of such conviction and ending after the interval specified in the following table.

If a student answers ‘Yes’ to the question on the FAFSA regarding conviction for possession or sale of illegal drugs, they will be sent a worksheet by the federal processing center in order 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.

If a conviction was reversed, set aside or removed from the student’s record it does not count. Convictions occurring during periods of non-enrollment do not count. In addition, any conviction received as a juvenile does not count, unless the student was tried as an adult.

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

 

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

A student regains 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. Further drug convictions will make the student ineligible again.

Students denied eligibility for an indefinite period can regain it after:

  • Successfully completing a rehabilitation program as described below,
  • 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.

Qualified 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

Note: Additional drug convictions will make the student ineligible for federal aid again. It is the student’s responsibility to certify to the school that they have successfully completed the rehabilitation program.