No, you are not going to be drafted into the military just because you applied for federal student loans

The acronym “FAFSA” has been popping up on social media in recent days, as some students who recently completed the Free Federal Student Aid Application feared – mistakenly – that filling out the form would make them eligible to be drafted into the military.

Interest in the topic increased after a U.S. drone strike ordered by President Trump killed Iranian military leader Major General Qassem Soleimani, a senior general who led the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran, which raises fears of a possible military conflict with Iran. Iran fired at least a dozen missiles early Wednesday local time at US military bases in Iraq in apparent retaliation for Soleimani’s murder.

An alarmed observer wrote on Twitter TWTR,
+ 3.91%
Friday: “For info: if one of you has filled out a FAFSA form to apply for a student loan, he is registered for the selective service. That’s pretty darn close to every Millennium and Gen Zer. Another wondered why the United States has an army of volunteers only if they are ‘cheating on you in the selective service system on #FAFSA’.

These concerns were misplaced: With few exceptions, men in the United States must register with the selective service when they turn 18, whether or not they meet. the FAFSA. It has been the law of the land since 1917. Failure to register for the selective service is a felony punishable by a fine of up to $ 250,000 or a prison sentence of up to five years, according to the Selective Service website. But the United States has not drafted people into the military since 1973, when the Vietnam War was ending.

“It’s very alarming that people think they are going to be recruited if they complete an FAFSA,” said Karen McCarthy, director of policy analysis for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), a non-profit organization that campaigns for better student access to college. “Completing a FAFSA doesn’t register anyone for selective service.”

But there is one key point that FAFSA applicants should be aware of: If they do not register with Selective Service between the ages of 18 and 25, they are not eligible for federal student aid. Question 22 on the FAFSA – which applicants are urged to ignore – notes that “most male students must register with the Selective Service System to receive federal aid.” If you are male, between 18 and 25 years old and not registered, fill in the circle and we will register you.

The selective service said on Friday morning on its official Twitter account that its website was experiencing a high volume of traffic “due to the spread of disinformation.” (The agency could not be reached for immediate comment as its website was down.)

“The selective service system is working as usual,” the account tweeted. “In the event that a national emergency requires a project, Congress and the President would have to pass formal legislation to authorize a project. “

The US Department of Education ensures that every male student who completes the FAFSA also registered for the selective service. If the student was legally required to enroll in the selective service but never did, their school will be notified and federal funds will not be released, McCarthy said.

This requirement has taken on new importance as the average age of new university students has increased. Some 38% of undergraduates were over 25 in 2017.

There are cases in which schools may decide to release funds even though the student has not signed up for selective service, McCarthy noted. But schools are only allowed to do so if the student can prove that they did not knowingly break the law by not enrolling. For example, a student who did not live in the United States between the ages of 18 and 25 would not have been required to enroll.

NASFAA has long spoken out against tying federal student aid to selective service status, McCarthy said. The group also lobbied against an issue on the FAFSA about whether the plaintiff has had any drug-related criminal convictions. The two questions have nothing to do with a student’s eligibility for federal student aid, McCarthy said.

“Questions like ‘Have you ever defaulted on a student loan? “Are fine,” McCarthy said. “But some of these other requirements seem foreign to us. Everyone is interested in making the FAFSA simpler, so we would love to see them eliminated. “

Advocates have long advocated for streamlining the FAFSA, in part because they believe more students would seek help if the form were simpler.

Students routinely leave money on the table by not completing the FAFSA: In 2018, more than half of high school students (52%) were eligible for Pell Grants, a federal grant for low-income students, but more than half of high school students (52%). ‘One-third (37%) of all high schools did not complete the FAFSA. The 661,000 students who did not claim their Pell Grant money missed out on $ 2.6 billion in free college money, according to a study by the personal finance website NerdWallet.

Failure to enroll in the selective service may also prevent men from enrolling in some public colleges and, in some states, prevent them from obtaining a driver’s license or applying for federal or state jobs, according to one. report of the Washington Post and United States today.

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