Federal law requires that most male U.S. citizens (regardless of where they live) and male immigrants residing in the United States (permanent resident aliens), age 18-25, register with the Selective Service. Generally, any man who is required to register with Selective Service must do so to receive federal student aid.
Some states require Selective Service registration to enroll in a state college or university or to qualify for state financial aid. Some colleges and universities require Selective Service registration for the student to receive institutional financial aid funds.
Exceptions to the Registration Requirement
Exceptions to the Selective Service registration requirement include:
- 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
Conscientious objectors are required to register with Selective Service. If a draft is instituted, they will be able to file a claim for exemption based on religious or moral objections at that time.
Transgender students must comply with the Selective Service registration requirement based on the student’s gender at birth as listed on the student’s birth certificate. Thus, a student who was born male but underwent sex reassignment surgery to become female must register with Selective Service. Students who were born female but underwent sex reassignment surgery to become male are not required to register with Selective Service. (However, given the possibility of a data match conflict for students who are currently male, it may be advisable to register with Selective Service to avoid bureaucratic problems.)
Selective Service Registration through the FAFSA
Male students who have not yet registered with Selective Service may ask the U.S. Department of Education to register the student with Selective Service by checking the “Register me” box on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Only male students who are age 18 or older and who have not yet have turned age 26 as of the date the FAFSA is filed may register with Selective Service using the FAFSA. FAFSA on the Web will ask the student whether he wishes to register with Selective Service. (Female applicants will not be asked whether they want to be registered with Selective Service.)
Students who are male but age 17 or younger as of the date the FAFSA is submitted should leave the question blank. The student must register with Selective Service within 30 days of his 18th birthday. He can do this at the Selective Service web site, www.sss.gov, or fill out a Selective Service postcard at any U.S. post office.
Checking Registration Status
If a student is unsure whether he has registered, he may check his registration status at www.sss.gov or call 1-888-655-1825 or 1-847-688-6888.
Students Who Never Registered with Selective Service
Male students who are over age 26 but never registered with Selective Service may be ineligible for federal student aid and, possibly, also some state aid. They should first obtain a status information letter from Selective Service to determine whether or not they were required to register. If they were required to register but did not, they will need to provide the college financial aid administrator (not Selective Service) with a preponderance of evidence that the failure to register was not knowing and willful. A preponderance of evidence means more evidence in favor than against. Examples include:
- Proof that the student did indeed register
- Proof that the student served full-time on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces (e.g., a copy of the DD-214)
- Proof that the student attended one of the service academies (the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, but not the Merchant Marine Academy)
- Proof that the student was hospitalized, institutionalized or incarcerated from age 18 to 25
- Proof that the student lived abroad from age 18 to 25