How a drug conviction may impact your financial aid

You may make some mistakes when you are young. Using drugs is not exactly a rare occurrence for young adults. But what may seem like a minor lapse in judgment may have significant ramifications. Drug charges may threaten your access to financial aid.

Tuition, textbooks and housing are quite costly. If you lose out on student aid, you may have trouble achieving your educational aspirations. Here is how a drug conviction may affect your ability to get financial aid.

Any conviction may disqualify you

Any state or federal charge, whether it be for possessing, intending to sell or selling illegal drugs, may result in a suspension of federal grants or loans. However, this will only happen if you commit a drug crime while you are receiving student aid. If your arrest occurs while you are not enrolled, such as during the summer months, it will not affect your federal aid unless you are arrested for drug trafficking.

The period of ineligibility

Here is how long you will remain ineligible for financial aid depending on your conviction:

  • First possession offense: One year
  • Second possession offense: Two years
  • Third possession offense: Indefinitely
  • First sale or intent to sell offense: Two years
  • Second sale or intent to sell offense: Indefinitely

The ineligibility period starts on the day of conviction instead of the day of the offense.

Regaining financial aid

According to the U.S. Department of Education, it is possible to regain eligibility after a drug conviction under certain circumstances. If you attend a drug rehabilitation program after a first or second offense, you may be able to get your financial aid back earlier. Even if you lose your aid indefinitely, you can become eligible again if you pass two random drug tests. 

Drug offenses may severely impact your ability to pursue a higher education. But if you complete rehabilitation and get legal help, you can get back on track.