Drug Convictions & Financial Aid Eligibility

How Drug Convictions Affect Financial Aid Eligibility

A federal or state drug conviction (but not a local or municipal conviction) can disqualify a student for FSA funds.

Convictions only count against a student for aid eligibility purposes (FAFSA question 23c) if they were for an offense that occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving federal student aid—they do not count if the offense was not during such a period, unless the student was denied federal benefits for drug trafficking by a federal or state judge (see drug abuse hold sidebar). Also, a conviction that was reversed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record does not count, nor does one received when she was a juvenile, unless she was tried as an adult.

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

Possession of Illegal DrugsSale of Illegal drugs
1st Offense1 year from date of conviction2 years from date of conviction
2nd Offense2 years from date of convictionIndefinite Period
3+ OffensesIndefinite Period

If the student was convicted of both possessing and selling illegal drugs, and the periods of ineligibility are different, the student will be ineligible for the longer period.

A student regains eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends (i.e., for a 1st or 2nd offense); or when he or she successfully completes a qualified drug rehabilitation program that includes passing two unannounced drug tests given by such a program. Further drug convictions will make him ineligible again.

Students denied eligibility for an indefinite period can regain eligibility after completing any of the following options: 1) Successfully completing a rehabilitation program, as described below, which includes passing two unannounced drug tests from such a program; 2) Having the conviction reversed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record so that fewer than two convictions for sale or three convictions for possession remain on the record; or 3) Successfully completing two unannounced drug tests which are part of a rehab program (the student does not need to complete the rest of the program). In such cases, the nature and dates of the remaining convictions will determine when the student regains eligibility.

Please contact the Financial Aid Office with any questions regarding this information at financialaid@dunwoody.edu or 612.374.5800.