Can college students lose financial aid after drug convictions?

For many college students, financial aid means the difference between being able to pursue higher education and lacking the funds to do so. If you count yourself among them and a law enforcement officer charges you with a drug-related offense while you are a recipient of federal financial aid, it may make you ineligible for assistance for a year or longer. 

Currently, any college student who receives a conviction for any type of drug offense stands to lose financial aid for a year, two years or indefinitely. How long you stand to become ineligible for financial aid depends on the details of your offense, among other considerations. 

Determining eligibility for aid

Every year you wish to use financial aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. During the application process, you have to answer questions about whether you received any convictions since you last applied. If you answer yes, you then have to answer more questions to figure out whether the offense impacts your financial aid eligibility. 

Regaining eligibility for aid early

If you do lose access to financial aid due to a drug offense, there are two ways in which you may be able to get it back earlier than planned. The first way to do so involves passing two random drug tests from an approved administrator. The second involves completing an approved substance dependency program. 

If you decide to try to regain financial aid eligibility early, know that it is up to you to inform your financial aid office once you have passed two tests or completed an approved program.