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Everything You Need to Know About Selective Service
The federal financial aid system mandates that all male students register with the Selective Service before submitting the FAFSA. Many people are unaware of the Selective Service and its requirements before applying for financial aid. Here’s our breakdown of the Selective Service enrollment process. We’ll go over what the Selective Service is, who must register, and what they are signing up for.
Related: What is this year’s FAFSA deadline?
What is the Selective Service System?
The Selective Service System is a federal database of people who are eligible to be drafted into the military. The law mandates that every male male in the US enrolls in the database within 30 days of turning 18. However, there are no penalties for signing up late as long as you enroll before you turn 26.
The database is maintained to collect data on people who might be drafted if it becomes necessary. It collects contact information and demographics. The United States has not had a draft since 1972, but it’s still important to know what you are signing up for. Unfortunately, if you will require any financial aid, you don’t have much of a choice.
Who has to register for the Selective Service?
All male Americans are required to register for the Selective Service before they turn 26 years old. If you fail to register, you waive your right to a wide variety of privileges. These include federal financial aid, naturalization, federal jobs and job training, and other state and local government jobs.
Rules for transgender students
The Selective Service enrollment requirement only applies to those who were assigned the male sex at birth. So, if you were assigned the female sex at birth and now identify as male, you are not required to register. And if you were assigned the male sex at birth and now identify as female, you are required to register.
For more details on how gender impacts Selective Services requirements, check out the Selective Service website.
What if I already turned 26 and haven’t registered?
Selective Service Exemptions
If you’ve already turned 26 and you haven’t registered, there are a few pathways to regain financial aid eligibility. The first option is to prove that you were exempt from the requirement. This could be because you were:
- Medically unable to serve
- Enrolled in the military
- Entered the US after turning 26 (To prove this, you’ll need to provide documentation of your first entry in the United States)
Students who were not required to register can obtain a status information letter directly from Selective Service. This letter will reinstate all the privileges that were revoked by failing to enroll. It can be obtained by calling or writing to the Selective Service System. Their phone number for SIL requests is 847-688-6888, and their address is:
Selective Service System
P.O. Box 94638
Palatine, IL 60094-4638
You can find more information about SIL appeals on the Selective Service website.
Willful and knowing
Another pathway is to prove that your failure to register was not knowing and willful, as defined by 50 U.S.C. 3811(g). If you can prove that you were unaware of the requirement, you may be able to regain eligibility for federal financial aid. This decision will be made by the US Department of Education rather than the Selective Service System.
To prove that a student was knowing of their decision not to enroll, they must have been aware of the requirement. To prove that your failure to enroll was willful, it must be shown that it was done intentionally.
If you served in the military but were discharged before you turned 26, you may be eligible to regain your benefits. Some soldiers were not informed that they needed to register when they were discharged.
Related: How to complete this year’s FAFSA
Frequently asked questions about the Selective Service
When do you have to register for the Selective Service?
That being said, men who want to take advantage of certain benefits, including federal financial aid, must register with the service before receiving it. So, most college-bound students in any sort of financial need have to register in order to attend college.
What happens if you don’t register for the Selective Service?
Perhaps more immediate a consequence for college-bound men is ineligibility for federal financial aid, including Pell Grants and Federal Direct Loans. Students do not have until they turn 26 to register if they hope to qualify for these programs.
What is the Selective Service portion of the FAFSA?
Are you automatically registered in the Selective Service when you turn 18?
How to write a letter explaining why I am not registered in the Selective Service?
If you have proof of any of these qualifying exemptions, you can get in touch with the Selective Service to obtain an exemption letter. There are two ways to do this: you can call the office at 847-688-6888, or send them a letter at: Selective Service System
P.O. Box 94638
Palatine, IL 60094-4638