Can I get Financial Aid if I have a Drug Conviction?

Eric Torberson blog on FAFSA drug conviction

For a conviction for possessing or selling drugs while receiving Federal Student Aid there is a waiting period for eligibility. The FAFSA Student Aid Eligibility Worksheet contains the information in the table below. The waiting period for Federal Financial Aid depends on whether the conviction is for possession or selling illegal drugs.

Drug Convictions While Receiving Federal AidEligibility Waiting Period From Conviction Date
1 Illegal Drug Possession Conviction1 year
2 Illegal Drug Possession Convictions2 years
1 Illegal Drug Selling Conviction2 years
2 or more Illegal Drug Selling ConvictionsIndefinite

Can Drug Rehab Help With FAFSA Eligibility?

Yes you can become eligible for Federal Student Aid if you complete an acceptable drug rehabilitation program. The FAFSA asks about drug convictions in question number 23 as shown below:

  1. Have you been convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (such as grants, work-study, or loans)?
    Answer “No” if you have never received federal student aid or if you have never had a drug conviction for an offense that occurred while receiving federal student aid. If you have a drug conviction for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid, answer “Yes,” but complete and submit this application, and we will mail you a worksheet to help you determine if your conviction affects your eligibility for aid.
    If you are unsure how to answer this question, call 1-800-433-3243 for help.

What is the Student Aid Eligibility Worksheet

The Student Aid Eligibility Worksheet helps determine the eligibility waiting period after a drug conviction that takes place while receiving Federal Student Aid. The worksheet is the document that covers what is sought in question 23 on the FAFSA. This form just allows the borrower to fill in blanks that then explain what information to put on the FAFSA question 23.

What if I lie on FAFSA?

Lying on the FAFSA can result in a large penalty. The text below is from Federal Statute 20 USC Section 1097:

“Any person who knowingly and willfully embezzles, misapplies, steals, obtains by fraud, false statement, or forgery, or fails to refund any funds, assets, or property provided or insured under this subchapter and part C of subchapter I of chapter 34 of title 42 or attempts to so embezzle, misapply, steal, obtain by fraud, false statement or forgery, or fail to refund any funds, assets, or property, shall be fined not more than $20,000 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both, except if the amount so embezzled, misapplied, stolen, obtained by fraud, false statement, or forgery, or failed to be refunded does not exceed $200, then the fine shall not be more than $5,000 and imprisonment shall not exceed one year, or both.”

As you can see lying on the FAFSA results in major possible punishment.

FAFSA Drug Conviction Loopholes

The best loophole for a FAFSA is to avoid a drug conviction. This means to try to get a deferred adjudication drug probation at the very worst. This means once probation is complete there will not be a conviction on the criminal record. After completion the charge can be sealed by a non-disclosure filed at the courthouse.

Drug Conviction Meaning

A drug conviction means that a person pleads guilty and receives probation or jail time from the court. The plea deal does not say that the probation is deferred adjudication. The conviction becomes final the day the judge signs the order for the drug conviction.

Do I Have to Pay Back Financial Aid Received After Drug Conviction?

It is possible that a student will have to pay back aid received after a drug conviction. The student is supposed to report the drug conviction to the financial aid office at the school he or she is attending. The office will then cancel the Federal Student Aid until the student is eligible again.

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Author: Eric Torberson

Eric Torberson is a licensed attorney in Texas as well as licensed in the federal courts of the southern and western districts of Texas.