Drug convictions can reduce college student aid

Drug convictions can reduce college student aid

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2023 | Drug Crimes |

A drug offense conviction can reduce your chances of getting a job, obtaining housing and paying for a higher education. Being convicted before seeking financial aid or while you are in college can impact your ability to obtain grants, loans and work-study opportunities.


College financial aid eligibility depends on your current situation relating to any drug possession or trafficking conviction. A person currently serving time for a drug conviction is ineligible for a federal Pell Grant or federal student loan.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and work study opportunities are also limited. After release, most restriction are removed. Eligibility is also restricted by convictions that arose when a student is receiving for financial aid.

Applicants completing a Free Application for Federal Student Financial Aid must answer questions on whether they were ever convicted of a drug-related crime while they were receiving federal financial aid. Applicants who answer affirmatively have to complete a worksheet used by the federal government to evaluate financial aid eligibility.


 Aid ineligibility depends on the type of conviction and whether there were other earlier offenses. The periods of ineligibility for conviction of possessing illegal drugs are:

  • One year for first offense
  • Two years for second offense
  • Indefinitely for third offense

The ineligibility periods for convictions of selling illegal drugs are:

  • Two years for first offense
  • Indefinitely for second and subsequent convictions

Becoming eligible

 Eligibility for federal grants and student loans will be suspended for at least one year after conviction of a drug crime while receiving financial aid. Periods of ineligibility depend on the crime and type of conviction.

Students, however, may become eligible quicker by completing an approved drug rehabilitation program or passing two surprise drug tests administered by an approved drug rehabilitation program. A conviction that is overturned or deleted from a student’s record does not impact federal aid eligibility. Juvenile convictions do not affect eligibility unless the student was tried as an adult.

Attorneys can assist students facing these and other consequences for drug offenses. They can help provide a legal defense and protect their rights.