Drug Convictions Disqualify Students from Financial Aid

A Drug conviction for students relying on financial aid is bad news. Students with a one drug conviction – involving possession – lose Student Financial Aid eligibility for one year from conviction date. People with two drug convictions for possession or one drug conviction for delivery lose eligibility for two years. Those with three drug possession convictions or two drug delivery convictions are ineligible indefinitely.

The U.S. Higher Education Act (HEA) denies loans, grants, even work-study jobs to thousands of would-be students every year who have drug convictions. In 2006 the law was scaled back to be limited to offenses committed while a student is enrolled in college and receiving federal Title IV aid.

Even though you may be ineligible for federal student aid now, you could qualify within a year or two. If your case is dismissed after completing a deferred sentence under MCL 333.7411, you could be eligible sooner, since the drug conviction is dismissed.

The Federal Financial Form (FAFSA) requires disclosure of drug convictions for possessing or selling illegal drugs – not alcohol – for an offense that occurred while the student was receiving federal student aid – grants, loans, and Work-study. Any drug conviction that was reversed, set aside, or removed from your record is not considered a “conviction” for this purpose. Do not count any conviction that occurred prior to turning 18, unless you were prosecuted as an adult.

If you have a drug conviction for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (such as grants, loans, or work-study), you must complete the Student Aid Eligibility Worksheet to determine if you are Eligible for and/or Partially Eligible for aid. Even if you are disqualified for Federal Student Aid, you may still qualify for financial aid from your college or state or other private organization.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick S. Fragel
Patrick S. Fragel, Criminal Defense, Former Prosecutor since 1994. After law school, he assumed a full-time prosecutor position where he handled cases involving drug offenses, drunk driving, serious assaults, and embezzlement. During his 18 years of private practice, he has obtained several “not-guilty” verdicts in criminal trials throughout Western Michigan. His business law practice includes 20 years in commercial transactions and business formation.

After earning his B.A. from Michigan State University, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, Infantry and climbed the ranks to Captain. His graduate work focused on organizational goal setting and culminated in an MPA from Northern Michigan University. While at NMU he performed outcomes assessment while working for the Department of Institutional Research.