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Notice of Federal Student Financial Aid Penalties for Drug Law Violations

Under federal law, some students that have a federal or state drug related conviction may be ineligible for federal student aid such as grants, loans, and work study.

(1) In General 

A student who is convicted of any offense under any Federal or State law involving the possession or sale of a controlled substance for conduct that occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving any grant, loan, or work assistance under this subchapter shall not be eligible to receive any grant, loan, or work assistance under this subchapter from the date of that conviction for the period of time specified in the following table:

If convicted of an offense involving:

The possession of a controlled substance: Ineligibility period is:
First offense 1 year
Second offense 2 years
Third offense Indefinite.
The sale of a controlled substance: Ineligibility period is:
First offense 2 years
Second offense Indefinite.

Students that have further drug related convictions after filing the FAFSA may have extended periods of ineligibility or may lose their eligibility indefinitely.

Regaining Eligibility
Students with suspended federal eligibility may regain their eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility expires (one year plus one day, two years plus one day).

Students may shorten their period of ineligibility or regain eligibility from an indefinite timeframe by meeting at least one of the following means:

  1. Having a conviction reversed, set aside, or otherwise rendered invalid
  2. Successfully completing an acceptable drug rehabilitation program that includes two unannounced drug tests
  3. Passing two unannounced drug tests administered by an acceptable drug rehabilitation program

Acceptable Drug Rehabilitation Program
An acceptable Drug Rehabilitation Program must include two unannounced drug tests, and at least one of the following:

  1. Be qualified to receive funds from a federal, state or local government program, or from a federal or state licensed insurance company, or
  2. Be administered or recognized by a federal, state, or local government agency or court, or by a federal or state licensed hospital, health clinic, or medical doctor.

Not all programs administer unannounced drug testing.   Students that contact a program for potential admission should explain the need for unannounced drug testing and inquire if the program can meet this requirement.

Many drug rehabilitation programs to not provide drug tests to individuals that have not been admitted to treatment.   To meet the drug testing requirement without going through a drug rehabilitation program, students must make arrangements with an acceptable drug rehabilitation program to administer the unannounced drug tests.

Other Drug Laws
The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 includes provisions that authorize federal and state judges to deny certain federal benefits, including federal financial aid, to persons convicted to drug trafficking or possession.   The Department of Education maintains a hold list for applicants that have had such a judgment against them.   Students will be notified that they are not eligible for federal financial aid and to whom they may inquire if they have questions.

For further information view Federal Student Aid's page on drug convictions and aid eligibility