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Federal Student Aid Penalties

By federal law, drug offenses result in the loss of financial aid.

Section 484(r) of the Higher Education Act stipulates that any student convicted of a drug-related offense during an enrollment period for which they are receiving federal aid (grant, loan or work study) is not eligible to receive additional aid. See the period of time specified in the table below:

Period of Ineligibility for Title IV Federal Aid

 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 indefinite period
3+  Offenses indefinite period indefinite period


  • For individuals convicted of both possession and sale of illegal drugs, overlapping periods of ineligibility run concurrently, resulting in the maximum period of ineligibility.
  • Only convictions for an offense occurring during the period of enrollment in which the individual was receiving federal aid will impact eligibility.
  • Convictions that are reversed, set aside or removed from the record will not impact eligibility, nor will convictions received when the individual was a juvenile unless tried as an adult.


Student Responsibilities if Convicted

A student convicted of a drug offense while receiving federal aid must notify the Office of Student Financial Planning immediately. The student will be immediately ineligible for further aid and will be required to pay back all aid received after loss of eligibility.

Students are required to self-certify eligibility for federal aid with regard to drug convictions on the FAFSA. If students are convicted while receiving federal aid, they are required to report the conviction on item number 23 of the FAFSA. For additional information, call a federal representative at 800-433-3243.

Regaining Eligibility

A student regains eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends, the date their conviction is overturned or on the date they complete a qualified drug rehabilitation program.

A student whose eligibility has been suspended indefinitely may only regain it by successfully completing a qualified drug rehabilitation program.

Qualified Drug Rehabilitation Programs

Qualified programs 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 federal- 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

It’s the student’s responsibility to certify to the Office of Student Financial Planning that they have successfully completed a rehabilitation program.