Drug Convictions Limit Federal Student Aid

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DRUG CONVICTIONS LIMIT FEDERAL STUDENT AID

It is a well known fact that conviction of a alcohol or drug related offense can give rise to life altering consequences. It seems like the implications of such convictions can insinuate themselves into virtually every aspect of a person’s personal and professional life. What is not equally well known is that a conviction for certain drug offenses can directly limit an individual’s eligibility for federal student aid. Consequently, it is critically important that if you are charged with a drug-related offense, you understand what the conviction means in terms of your eligibility for federal student aid.

Your eligibility for federal student aid can be affected by incarceration and/or the nature of any criminal conviction. If you are currently receiving federal student aid (grants, loans, or work-study) and are charged with a drug-related felony or misdemeanor, your eligibility might be suspended. In that case, you will also become ineligible to receive further aid for a specified period of time upon conviction.

The length of time that drug convictions limit federal student aid are as follows:

  • First offense for possession of illegal drugs, 1 year of ineligibility from the date of conviction.

  • First offense for sale of illegal drugs, 2 years of ineligibility from the date of the conviction.

  • Second offense for possession of illegal drugs, 2 years of ineligibility from date of conviction.

  • Second offense for sale of illegal drugs, indefinite period of ineligibility.

  • Third or more offense for possession or sale of illegal drugs, indefinite period of ineligibility.

You can shorten the length of time that drug convictions limit federal student aid by the following:

  • Successfully completing an approved drug rehabilitation program that includes passing two unannounced drug tests or

  • Passing two unannounced drug tests administered by an approved drug rehabilitation program, or

  • Having the conviction reversed, set aside, or otherwise rendered invalid.

If you do not opt to pursue an early reinstatement of your eligibility for Federal student aid, you can use the Student Aid Eligibility Worksheet to calculate the date you will regain eligibility.

When is a student considered to be receiving aid?

A student is considered to be receiving aid from the beginning of the first day that classes start for any term that you have applied for, been approved for, and accepted an offer for Federal student aid. You are considered still enrolled during any holiday breaks during that term. However, breaks between the terms, such as summer break, do not count as time enrolled.

What if I received a conviction when I was not receiving aid?

Felony or misdemeanor drug convictions (sale or possession) do not count if they were during a period of time that you were not receiving Federal student aid.

How do I find an approved treatment program?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides a Treatment Locator that lists treatment program that receives Federal funds.

An acceptable drug rehabilitation program must include two unannounced drug tests and meet one of the following requirements:

  • Qualified to receive funds directly or indirectly from a Federal, State, or local government program.

  • Qualified to receive payment directly or indirectly from a Federal or State-licensed insurance company.

  • Administered or recognized by a Federal, State, or local government agency or court.

  • Administered or recognized by a Federally or State-licensed hospital, health clinic or medical doctor.

Do I have to document successful completion of the treatment or drug testing requirements?

Your financial aid office will determine whether you will need to provide written documentation of your successful completion.

How do I find out more information regarding how drug convictions limited Federal student aid?

If you have additional questions or for further information, you can visit the Office of the National Drug Control Policy or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243.

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