By law, some students who have drug-related convictions under any federal or state law may be ineligible for federal student aid. According to the law, if you are convicted of an offense involving a controlled substance you may face these restrictions:
Do all drug convictions count?
Convictions only count if they were for an offense that occurred during a period of enrollment for which you received Title IV aid. Do not count offenses that occurred outside this period. In addition, do not count any conviction that was reversed, set aside, or removed from your record. Also, do not count any conviction that occurred when you were a juvenile, unless you were prosecuted as an adult.
Further explanation of the term controlled substance is defined in section 102(6) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802(6)).
If I have drug convictions, should I still apply for student aid?
Yes, even if you have drug convictions, you should complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You may be eligible, depending on the date and number of convictions. Even if you are ineligible for federal student aid, you should complete and submit your FAFSA. Many states and schools use information from the FAFSA, and you may still be eligible for scholarships or other types of aid from other programs. There is a way that you can regain eligibility for the federal programs no matter how many or what type of drug convictions you have. You must successfully complete an acceptable drug rehabilitation program that meets the standards set by Congress and the Department of Education. You will regain eligibility on the date you complete the program.
How do I answer Question 23 on the FAFSA?
Question 23 on the FAFSA asks about drug convictions. Do not leave this question blank. If you answer "YES" you can call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or go to http://www.fafsa.ed.gov if you need help filling out the worksheet after you receive it in the mail.
How do I regain eligibility for Title IV aid?
You regain eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends or when you successfully complete a qualified drug rehabilitation program. Further drug convictions will make you ineligible again.
What is an acceptable drug rehabilitation program?
An acceptable drug rehabilitation program must have TWO unannounced drug tests AND it must meet one of the following requirements:
If you want to find out if a drug rehabilitation program meets the described standards, you need to contact the rehabilitation program.
How can I get more information?
If you still have questions about the law, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). Your personal information is confidential, and you will remain anonymous. Further information relating to suspension of eligibility for drug-related offenses can be found in Sec 483(r) of the 1998 Amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965.