Drug Conviction and Federal Financial Aid Eligibility

Important Update from the U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has rescinded the student eligibility requirement. A student no longer faces penalties or suspension of Title IV aid due to a drug conviction that occurred while the student was enrolled and receiving Title IV aid. While the information below must still be provided, the loss of federal student aid for drug convictions no longer applies.

A student may become ineligible for federal financial aid funds upon conviction of any offense involving the possession or sale of illegal drugs while receiving federal financial aid. Federal aid includes Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Direct Student Loans, Federal Direct PLUS loans and Federal Work-Study.

Financial Aid Penalties for Drug Convictions

The chart below illustrates the period of ineligibility for federal financial aid funds, depending on whether the conviction was for sale or possession and whether the student had previous offenses. A conviction for the sale of drugs includes convictions for conspiring to sell drugs.

Time of Federal Aid Ineligibility
Offense 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 Infinite period
3rd Offense Infinite period Infinite period

Regaining Eligibility

A student regains eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends (i.e., for a 1st or 2nd offense); or when the student 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.

Qualified Drug Rehabilitation Program

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;
  • 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; or
  • Be administered or recognized by a federally or state-licensed hospital, health clinic, or medical doctor.