Being accepted into a university has many benefits, from improving your job prospects after graduation to developing a sense of independence. This independence as a young adult also comes with a level of responsibility.

To obtain financial assistance from any federal program, Illinois universities must enforce the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments. Campuses that want this funding have to comply with federal and state laws regarding the possession, use and distribution of illegal or controlled substances.

Keep in mind that Illinois laws regarding small amounts of recreational marijuana are changing as of January 1, 2020. However, even after the law change, only adults 21 years and older can legally possess up to 30 grams.

Student drug possession

As a student caught possessing illegal drugs, you can be subject to a number of penalties. If you collect student aid, you may not be able to obtain government aid, loans or grants for one year after your first conviction and for two years after a second conviction.


  • Less than 2.5 grams: Maximum $1,500 fine and 30 days in jail
  • 10 to 30 grams: Maximum $2,500 fine and one year in jail; second offense is a felony with a maximum $25,000 fine and one to three years in prison
  • Prescription forgery: Maximum $100,000 fine and one to three years in prison (first offense)

If caught possessing harder drugs such as cocaine, heroin, meth, morphine or LSD, penalties for holding 15 grams or more begin with a $200,000 fine and four to 15 years in prison.

Student drug sale

If you rely on student aid and get caught selling or manufacturing drugs, you will not be eligible for two years after your first sales conviction, and you will not be eligible at all after a second conviction.

The fines are similar for sales compared to possession; however, jail sentences can be longer for cannabis. Sale of harder drugs includes much higher fines and prison time – 15 to 100 grams can lead you to spend six to 30 years locked up, plus a $500,000 fine. It is important to understand your rights to a fair trial.