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PSA: If you applied for FAFSA, you could be Drafted

Updated: Jan 4, 2020

Three days into the new year, fears of World War III are greater than ever. Iran has vowed “harsh retaliation” because of an attack ordered by President Trump without the authorization of Congress yesterday. As the world reacts to the assassination of Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, in the attack by the US Air Strike last night, many Americans are fearfully reviewing their FAFSA applications because of its enlistment clause. Oh? You didn’t know that was in there? Well, it's under something called “Selective Services. ”

We’ll break it down:

  1. Selective Services is a United States system and database that registers men for a Military Draft when they turn 18.  When authorized by the President and Congress, it can be used to provide personnel in a “fair and equitable manner.” 

  2. Federal law requires that male U.S citizens (regardless of if they live in the country or abroad) as well as male immigrants residing in the United States as permanent resident aliens, ages 18-25, register for Selective Services. The law states that men must register for the draft within 30 days of their 18th birthday.

  3. Male students who haven’t applied for Selective Services before applying for FAFSA are required to do so within their FAFSA application simply by checking the “Register Me’ box on the application. The box needs to be checked to submit the application.

There are severe consequences for failing to register: 

  1. A man who fails to register may, if prosecuted and convicted, face a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison term of up to five years.

  2. Without registering for Selective Services, male students may be ineligible for Federal Aid and in order to get it would have to jump through several hoops to prove that they did not willfully and knowingly fail to register for Selective Services.

Essentially, with or without FAFSA, registering for Selective Services is a federal mandate. So who is exempt?

  • Female students

  • Male students who have not yet reached age 18

  • Male students born in 1959 or an earlier year

  • Male students enrolled in an officer procurement program at the Citadel (Charleston, SC), North Georgia College (Dahlonega, GA), Norwich University (Northfield, VT) or the Virginia Military Institute (Lexington, VA)

  • Male students who are commissioned officers of the Public Health Service or a member of the Reserve of the Public Health Service who is on active duty

Transgender students' registration for Selective Services is based on the gender they were assigned at birth. If assigned male, when they were born, trans students are required to register for the draft. 

To find out your registration status, you may check your registration status at or call 1-888-655-1825 or 1-847-688-6888.

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