Financial Aid

Selective Service & Drug Penalties for Aid Canceled

The FAFSA Simplification Act (Act) was enacted into law on December 27, 2020, as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. The Act makes many important changes to the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

While the Act directs most changes to happen for the 2023-24 academic year and the law is anticipated to be fully implemented by 2024-25, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) was authorized to implement changes earlier when possible. Required notification has been made to eliminate two requirements for aid eligibility beginning with 2021-22 as of August 16, 2021.


Selective Service Registration

Previously, males 18 years of age had to register with Selective Service as a requirement for receiving federal aid resources. Students who completed the FAFSA were also checked against the Selective Service database to ensure compliance with this requirement.

With this portion of the Higher Education Act now rescinded as part of the FAFSA Simplification Act, the Department has decided to implement this change early so as to not restrict aid eligibility between 2021-22 and the full implementation of the Act.

Male U.S. citizens are still required to register for Selective Service upon reaching the age of 18. In Ohio, Selective Service registration remains a requirement to receive in-state tuition at public universities. However, Selective Service registration requirements are no longer required for eligibility for Title IV (federal aid) funds.


Drug Conviction

The FAFSA Simplification Act similarly eliminated the ineligibility for Title IV funds due to drug convictions.

Previously, a federal or state drug conviction could disqualify a student from federal student aid funds. Convictions only counted if they were for an offense that occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving Title IV aid. Also, a conviction that was reversed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record did not count nor did one received when he/she was a juvenile, unless the student was tried as an adult.

Students with a conviction could have their eligibility for aid curtailed previously based on the following chart:

Former penalites for drug conviction regarding aid eligibility.

 

Possession of Drugs

Sale of Drugs

1st Offense

1 year from date of conviction

2 years from date of conviction

2nd Offense

2 years from date of conviction

Indefinitely

3rd Offense

Indefinitely

 

With this portion of the Higher Education Act now rescinded as part of the FAFSA Simplification Act, the Department has decided to implement this change early so as to not restrict aid eligibility between 2021-22 and the full implementation of the Act.

Drug convictions are serious offenses and can have lasting consequences for students and in future employment. Students should consider their actions carefully. At the same time, drug convictions no longer affect federal aid eligibility directly.


Future FAFSA Questions

While there is a change in eligibility based on early implementation of the Selective Service and drug conviction requirements being dropped, the FAFSA for 2021-22 and 2022-23 were either in production or nearing production at the time of these changes.

The FAFSAs for these academic years will still ask students about their Selective Service registration status and drug convictions. However, students will not be penalized by losing federal aid eligibility for these academic years on these matters.