Penalties for Drug Law Violations

Federal guidelines focus strongly on illicit drug use and distribution. The Higher Education Act states that a federal or state drug conviction can disqualify you from being eligible for federal financial aid. Federal financial aid includes:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  • Federal Work Study
  • Federal Direct Loan Program
  • Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan

Without a valid FAFSA for federal financial aid, students are also ineligible for State aid and most institutional aid programs.

Possession of Illegal Drugs

  • First Offense: Loss of eligibility for federal financial aid for one year from the date of conviction.
  • Second Offense: Loss of eligibility for federal financial aid for two years from the date of conviction.
  • Third and Subsequent Offenses: Indefinite eligibility for federal financial aid from the date of conviction.

Sale of Illegal Drugs

  • First Offense: Loss of eligibility for federal financial aid for two years from the date of conviction.
  • Second and Subsequent Offenses: Indefinite eligibility for federal financial aid from the date of conviction.

Regaining Federal Student Aid Eligibility after a Drug Conviction

In accordance with an HEOA provision, a student whose eligibility has been suspended due to a drug conviction is allowed to resume eligibility if the student successfully passes two unannounced drug tests conducted by a qualified drug rehabilitation program. A qualified drug rehabilitation program must satisfy at least one of the following:

  • 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, state, or local government program.
  • 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.

More information on drug-related convictions can be found on the Federal Student Aid and Office of National Drug Control Policy websites.