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Federal Student Financial Aid Penalties for Drugs/Law Violation

A federal or state drug conviction (but not a local or municipal conviction) can disqualify a student for FSA funds. The student self-certifies in applying for aid that he is eligible.

Convictions only count against a student for aid eligibility purposes (FAFSA question 23c) if they were for an offense that occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving federal student aid—they do not count if the offense was not during such a period, unless the student was denied federal benefits for drug trafficking by a federal or state judge (see drug abuse hold sidebar). Also, a conviction that was reversed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record does not count, nor does one received when the student was a juvenile unless tried as an adult.

The chart below illustrates the period of ineligibility for FSA funds, depending on whether the conviction was for sale or possession and whether the student had previous offenses. A conviction for sale of drugs includes convictions for conspiring to sell drugs.

  Possession of illegal drugs Sale of illegal drugs
1st offense 1 year from date of conviction 2 years from date of conviction
2nd offense 2 years from date of conviction Indefinite period
3+ offenses Indefinite period  

If the student was convicted of both possessing and selling illegal drugs, and the periods of ineligibility are different, the student will be ineligible for the longer period. Schools must provide each student who becomes ineligible for FSA funds due to a drug conviction a clear and conspicuous written notice of his loss of eligibility and the methods whereby he can become eligible again.

A student regains eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends (i.e., for a 1st or 2nd offense); or when he or she successfully completes a qualified drug rehabilitation program that includes passing two unannounced drug tests given by such a program. Further drug convictions will make him ineligible again.

Students denied eligibility for an indefinite period can regain eligibility after completing any of the following options:
1) Successfully completing a rehabilitation program, as described below, which includes passing two unannounced drug tests from such a program;
2) Having the conviction reversed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record so that fewer than two convictions for sale or three convictions for possession remain on the record; or
3) Successfully completing two unannounced drug tests which are part of a rehab program (the student does not need to complete the rest of the program).

In such cases, the nature and dates of the remaining convictions will determine when the student regains eligibility. It is the student’s responsibility to certify to you that she has successfully completed the rehabilitation program; as with the conviction question on the FAFSA, you are not required to confirm the reported information unless you have conflicting information. When a student regains eligibility during the award year, you may award Pell Grant and Campus-Based aid for the current payment period and Direct Loans for the period of enrollment.


There are important steps that you, the student, and LCN, as the certifying official, need to follow to ensure that you receive your benefits in a timely manner and that you do not receive over-payments that you are required to repay to the Dept. of Veteran Affairs. These steps are as follows:

  • When you apply or renew your benefits, all correspondence with the Federal Agency is with you, the veteran. LCN is not sent copies of your approvals or your certificates of eligibility. If you do not bring these in when you receive them, we will not know that you have benefits available to you.
  • Refer to this website concerning education benefits: https://www.va.gov/
  • Each semester when you enroll, you must:
    • Complete and return the LCN Veteran's Enrollment Certification Form to the Financial Aid office. The blank form will be emailed to you prior to the start of each semester.

If you withdraw, drop, or change credit hours in any way after your initial enrollment, you must contact the LCN Financial Aid office immediately so that we can contact the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to notify them of the change in hours. If this is not done, it will result in an overpayment of your benefits and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs will take aggressive action to reclaim the overpayment. The Dept. of Veterans Affairs has a number of actions they pursue to reclaim overpayments, one of which is withholding future benefits.

If you have questions regarding the amount of your entitlement, how many months you have left, or other inquiries, please call the Dept. of Veterans Affairs Regional Office at 1-888-442-4551. The school does not have access to this information.

All enrollment certifications are transmitted to the Dept. of Veteran Affairs office in St. Louis, MO. Please take into consideration that the St. Louis Office assists 15 states in their region. At times, there is an over-abundance of information sent to them, and they may be backlogged. This may result in your hours not being available on the WAVE or the telephone electronic certification number. If this happens, please call us to ensure that the hours have been certified. After we have confirmed certification, you will need to call the VA Regional Office to certify your enrollment. See contact numbers listed below.

You will self-certify each month that you are enrolled in college at the Web Automated Verification of Enrollment (WAVE) https://www.gibill.va.gov/wave/index.do.


If you are eligible for another benefit program as well as the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33), you should review the side-by-side comparison of benefits under each program. https://benefits.va.gov/GIBILL/comparison_chart.asp. While each individual's situation is different, this may help you determine which of the programs provide the most benefit for your individual situation. You should now have enough information to decide whether you want to apply for the Post-9/11 GI Bill or another benefit program. Remember, if you give up another program to receive the Post-9/11 GI Bill, it is an irrevocable choice - this means that once you have selected the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you cannot switch back to the program you gave up. At this time, you also will have to determine which school you will apply to for enrollment. https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/school_decision.asp


LCN Veteran's Certifying Official
Tammy Garza 217-709-0928 tgarza@lakeviewcol.edu

LCN Director of Financial Aid & Veteran's Education Benefits
Janet Ingargiola 217-709-0930  jingarg@lakeviewcol.edu
For the Online Brochure of Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors 2018 Edition: https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/benefits_book.asp


  • Dept. of Veteran Affairs Regional Office 1-888-442-4551
  • Monthly Enrollment Certification 1-877-823-2378
  • General Information other VA Benefits 1-800-827-1000
  • POW/MIA Certification 217-782-3564  or 217-782-6641
  • Call Center: The Department of Veterans Affairs Education Call Center open for telephone calls Monday through Friday during normal business hours from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm Central Standard Time 1-800-827-1000


  1. Veteran's Illinois Contact https://www.va.gov/directory/guide/state.asp?State=IL&dnum=ALL
  2. Vocation Rehabilitation (Peoria, IL) 309-688-2170  or the VA Toll free 1-800-827-1000 and please note the government website listed below:
  3. https://www.benefits.va.gov/VOCREHAB/edu_voc_counseling.asp (Vocational Rehabilitation)