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On July 1, 2000, federal legislation mandated strict rules for students with drug convictions receiving financial aid from the government. The number and nature of drug convictions a student has may result in long-term suspension of eligibility for federal aid.
Eligibility for both subsidized and unsubsidized student loans, like the Federal Stafford Loan, is suspended for one year on a first-time offense for possession of illegal drugs. The suspension begins on the date of conviction. A second conviction carries a suspension of two years, while a third suspends eligibility indefinitely.
Convictions for the sale of illegal drugs carry stiffer penalties. The first offense makes the student ineligible for two years and the second offense brings with it an indefinite suspension.
This does not apply to convictions that have been overturned, expunged or took place before the age of 18. Even if you have been convicted of one of these offenses, you should still fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), since many schools and other organizations use information on this form to determine privately funded aid.
You may always regain eligibility after an indefinite suspension if you complete a federally approved rehabilitation program. This will allow you to reapply for unsubsidized and subsidized student loans.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|