Federal Student Financial Aid Penalties for Drug Law Violations

Students convicted of possession or sale of drugs

A federal or state drug conviction can disqualify a student for FSA funds. The student self-certifies in applying for aid that he is eligible; you’re not required to confirm this unless you have conflicting information.

Convictions only count against a student for aid eligibility purposes if they were for an offense that occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving Federal Student Aid—they do not count if the offense was not during such a period. Also, a conviction that was reversed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record does not count, nor does one received when he/she was a juvenile, unless he/she was tried as an adult.

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.)

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* Indefinite period*
*Under the law, an indefinite period of ineligibility continues unless your conviction is overturned or other wise rendered invalid or you meet one of the two early reinstatement requirements specified above.

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.

Schools must provide each student who becomes ineligible for Title IV aid due to a drug conviction a clear and conspicuous written notice of his loss of eligibility and the methods whereby he can become eligible again.

A student regains eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends or when he successfully completes a qualified drug rehabilitation program or, effective beginning with the 2010–2011 award year, passes two unannounced drug tests given by such a program. Further drug convictions will make him ineligible again.

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

  1. Successfully completing a rehabilitation program, as described below, which includes passing two unannounced drug tests from such a program;
  2. Having the conviction resersed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record so that fewer than two convictions for sales or three convictions for possession remain on the record; or
  3. Successfully completing two unannounced drug tests which are part of a rehab program (the student does not need to complete the rest of the program).

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 to Stark State that she has successfully completed the rehabilitation program; as with the conviction question on the FAFSA, you are not required to confirm the reported information unless you have conflicting information.

When a student regains eligibility during the award year, Stark State may award Pell and Campus-based aid for the current payment period and Direct and FFEL loans for the period of enrollment.

Standards for a 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 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