The Catholic University of America

Summary of Federal Laws


 Miscellaneous Laws Affecting Students 

The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989 (amends the Higher Education Act)

20 U.S.C. § 1011i; 34 C.F.R. § 86.1 et seq.; 55 Fed. Reg. 33,580 (Aug. 16, 1990)

Drug and Alcohol Prevention Program

This law requires institutions receiving federal financial assistance to establish drug and alcohol abuse prevention programs for students and employees. Students and employees must receive materials annually that contain standards of conduct, a description of the various laws that apply in that jurisdiction regarding alcohol and drugs, a description of the various health risks of drug and alcohol abuse, a description of counseling and treatment programs that are available, and a statement on the sanctions the university will impose for a violation of the standards of conduct.

Biennial Review

The law also requires a biennial review of the program. The biennial review must include a determination of the number of drug and alcohol-related violations and fatalities that occur on the institution's campus or as part of the institution's activities and the number and type of sanctions imposed by the institution as a result of drug and alcohol-related violations and fatalities that occur on the institution's campus or as part of the institution's activities.

Campus is defined in the same manner as it is defined for campus safety reporting purposes, i.e. any building or property owned or controlled by the institution within a reasonably contiguous geographic area used in direct support of the institution's educational purposes or used by students and supporting institutional purposes. Per the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse practice has been that campuses conduct a biennial review by the end of each even numbered calendar year. The school should keep the biennial review on file in case of a possible audit. Schools are not required to send their review to the Dept. of Education.


Recordkeeping requirements include keeping a copy of the biennial review and other compliance documents for three years after the fiscal year in which the record was created 34 C.F.R. § 86.103(b).


Institutions of higher education must certify to the Secretary of Education that the school has adopted and implemented a program to prevent the use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol by students and employees. This is a one-time certification that should already have been made by most schools as the certification requirement was added to the law in 1989. The regulations are at 34 C.F.R. Part 86.  


NACUA Notes: Federal Enforcement of Drug-Free Schools Regulations Likely to Increase (July 3, 2012)

NACUANOTES: Volume 12, No. 3--Update: Marijuana on Campus-Yes, It Is Still Illegal (April 15, 2014)



updated 12-6-18 mlo