Students Convicted of Possession or Sale of Drugs


A federal or state drug conviction can disqualify a student for federal student aid funds. Convictions only count if they were on an offense that occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving Title IV aid (convictions do not count if the offence was not during such a period). Also, a conviction that was reserved, set aside, or removed from a student's record does not count, nor does one received as a juvenile, unless 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.)

Ineligibility for FSA funds


  • 1st offense: 1 year from date of conviction
  • 2nd offense: 2 years from date of conviction
  • 3rd or more offense: Indefinite period


  • 1st offense: 2 years from date of conviction
  • 2nd offense: Indefinite

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 or when one successfully completes a qualified drug rehabilitation program or passes two unannounced drug tests given by such a program. Further drug convictions will make a student ineligible again.

Students denied eligibility for an indefinite period can regain it after successfully completing a rehabilitation program; passing two unannounced drug tests from such a program, or if a conviction is 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. In such cases, the nature and dates of the remaining convictions will determine when the student regains eligibility.

Standards for a Qualified Drug Rehabilitation Program

A qualified drug rehabilitation program must include at least two unannounced drug test 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 federally or state-licensed insurance company.
  • Be administered or recognized by federal, state, or local government agency or court.
  • Be administered or recognized by a federally or state-licensed hospital, health clinic, or medical doctor.

 ***Please note: The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 includes provisions that authorize federal and state judges to deny certain federal benefits, including student aid, to persons convicted of drug trafficking or possession.