Both state and federal laws prohibit the distribution, intent to distribute, and manufacturing of controlled substances or counterfeit controlled substances. State penalties are dependent upon the type and quantity of the drug involved. Conviction may also result in the loss of state and federal benefits, such as grants, school loans, or work assistance, during the time periods required by federal law. Specific drugs, amounts, and penalties can be located in Iowa Code Section 124.

If a student is convicted of an offense under any federal or state law involving the possession or sale of illegal drugs, they may be disqualified for Federal Student Aid (FSA) funds.  Convictions count if obtained during a period of enrollment for which a student was receiving Title IV aid.  A conviction that was reversed, set aside, or removed from a student’s record does not count, nor does a conviction received when the student was a juvenile, unless they were tried as an adult.  Students who lose eligibility due to being convicted of possession or sale of drugs will be notified in a timely manner by the financial aid department.

The chart below illustrates the period of ineligibility for FSA funds. (A conviction for sale of illegal drugs also includes convictions for conspiring to sell illegal 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*  

* Under the law, an indefinite period of ineligibility continues unless the individual convicted is able to meet one of the three early reinstatement requirements specified below.

If a student was convicted of both possessing and selling illegal drugs, with differing periods of ineligibility, a student will be ineligible for the longer period of time.

A student, whose eligibility has been suspended, based on a conviction for possession or sale of a controlled substance, may resume eligibility before the end of the ineligibility period if:

  1. the student satisfactorily completes an approved drug rehabilitation program that complies with the criteria outlined in the federal regulations and includes passing two unannounced drug tests; or
  2. the student successfully passes two unannounced drug tests conducted by an approved drug rehabilitation program that complies with the criteria outlined in the federal regulations; or
  3. the conviction is reversed, set aside, or otherwise rendered invalid.

For additional information please see the FAFSA Facts page at