Obtaining Security Clearance

Student Eligibility for Security Clearances

Here at ClearanceJobs we regularly get questions from individuals wondering if an indiscretion or two (i.e. – occasional drug use in college, a misdemeanor offense, or delinquent credit card debt) will hinder them in receiving a security clearance. The answer is generally  “it depends.” Factors include time elapsed since the incident, efforts to control or handle the problem and an individual’s behavior since. Because time elapsed since an error in judgement is such a critical factor, college students with youthful indiscretions may be in particular trouble. A clearance investigator is unlikely to consider your habitual marijuana use in college to be negated by the fact that you stopped after the spring semester – a few months before applying for a position with the State Department and needing to obtain a clearance.

Fortunately for many Maryland students, there’s Project SCOPE. With the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) bringing tens of thousands of jobs to Maryland – and many of those jobs in fields requiring a security clearance – the Fort Meade Alliance, a local community organization, has stepped in to educate students on what they need to know about obtaining a clearance.  The program is now offered across the state of Maryland and brings together parents, students, teachers and local business leaders to encourage young people to make smart choices – and keep their future career in mind.

It demonstrates just how important a security clearance can be, and why it’s critical for young people to realize that drug use, significant debt or criminal activity aren’t just poor choices to make now, but could impact them in their career down the road.

Editor’s note: With one-in-five high school students reporting having abused prescription drugs, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, it’s increasingly important to remember that abusing medications, just because they’re legal, isn’t okay. Drug abuse is drug abuse.

Comment Archive

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    I think there is a typo in the Editors Note.

    ….according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, it’s increasingly important to remember that abusing medications, just because they’re legal, is okay. Drug abuse is drug abuse.

    I think the word “not” should be between “is ” and “okay”.

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    Nice catch.



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    I don’t know with the way our society thinks anymore–just maybe they meant it that way.

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    Rule #1 – Never let the editor write notes. 😉 I’m not endorsing prescription drug abuse! I’d just read that stat this weekend and was a little horrified. I’m not sure if it comes up in investigations often, but if the prescription drug abuse stats are correct, it could be an issue for a lot of folks – now or down the road.

    Thanks for reading, and thanks for editing my editor’s note!


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    I’m guessing millions of people have taken someone else’s prescriptions like motrin and maybe others. There will be no way to uncover this type of abuse unless you run across someone, who may be just a little more honest than needed 🙂

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    BW~ I totally agree! Keeping some things to yourself is best…

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    When asked about prescription drug abuse during my poly, I confessed to having once given my roommate half of a prescription sleeping pill (that I had legally) to help her sleep. I tearfully asked if I was going to be denied a clearance. He rolled his eyes at me.

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    Admin–Funny and good sense of humor 🙂

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    I know it’s been asked before but any chance we could get a discussion forum on this website?

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    @Fed. Investigator. We’re always looking to improve things. I’ll keep the discussion forum on my radar screen as a possibility – nothing is in the works now. My main concern is – if we started a discussion forum who will comment on my blog posts? 🙂

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    You could intergrate the blog posts into the discussion forum, like as a sticky.

    I just think it would bring more traffic and a greater wealth of shared knowledge.

    Or just a bunch of trolls and people bitching about about the process but that might be fun too.


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    Good idea. I bet that integration of a discussion forum would increase the traffic on this site. Would gain the interest of many background investigators. We aren’t all bitchy trolls! Not all of the time, anyway!

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    I somehow think it could turn into another job vent if not careful. I guess if it was to happen, strong rules would need to be enforced. Your thoughts?

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    You could have a thread dedicated to bitching, a-la Job Vent.

    There could be multiple forums with multiple topics.

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    We will always find time to comment on your posts so use spell check 🙂 You see, we inv’s can only find mistakes by others because we are so PERFECT 🙂

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    I agree with BW.


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    I think job vent took a dive because of the threat of lawsuits (but, MAN, that was a great site!).

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    If the forums just stuck to clearances, I don’t think the trolls could get that bad. Federalsoup.com is an excellent example; the clearance forum is troll free, but the others related to just being hired and whatnot have trolls running rampant.

    I often refer people to articles from clearancejobsblog.com. I think your traffic will only increase with a forum!

  19. Avatar

    I have friends going through the clearance process – it is really interesting to see what they have been able to get away with through the years and still get to work for the federal government!

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    I’m continually amazed by the kiddos with cavalier attitudes towards drug use, as if a state declaring it “medical” marijuana makes it fine & dandy. Then they get rejected by a three letter agency or can’t pass a polygraph and wonder why. Part of me can’t blame them, they’re getting a very mixed and stupidly permissive message from pop culture and society at large, especially in California (go figure).

    But like it or not, when Uncle Sam is doing the hiring, it’s 1955 all over again. Sorry kids – time to grow up.

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    Experts, as a recent grad from the Washington Area many of my friends and I are concerned with the clearance process as it relates to addheral. How damaging is using/ giving it to friends for study purposes to the security process? Any idea of how the drug relates to marijuana as far as terms of disclosing?