College is a time where students experiment with their newfound independence and adult responsibilities. But experimentation can lead to trouble when it involves drugs or underage drinking. One mistake can lead to consequences that impact your future and your financial aid.
Until 2009, a single drug conviction could ruin a student’s change for financial aid forever. Now, laws changed relating to drug convictions and student aid benefits. Students with drug offenses are eligible for financial aid, but the eligibility is limited depending on multiple factors.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, your eligibility might be suspended if the drug offense occurred while receiving financial aid, including loans, grants or work-study. Only certain convictions will influence financial aid, so the FAFSA form asks you to fill out a worksheet about the conviction to determine eligibility. According to the Wake Forest University policy, students convicted of possessing or selling illegal drugs can have their aid revoked.
You can regain eligibility early by successfully completing an approved drug rehabilitation program or passing two random drug tests administered by an approved drug rehabilitation program. Or your eligibility can return if your conviction is reversed, set aside or rendered invalid. If you gain back the eligibility within the award year, you should notify the financial aid office so you can receive any remaining aid.
If you are convicted of a drug-related offense after you submit the FAFSA form, you might lose eligibility for federal student aid and be liable for paying back any financial aid you already received. Check with your school’s policies if you are concerned about pending drug convictions or want to learn more about other influential factors in financial aid.