The Selective Service question on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) caused a stir on social media over the weekend, with students concerned over a potential draft after the drone strike killing Iranian military leader Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, MarketWatch reported.
Students who recently completed the FAFSA form worried—incorrectly—that filling out the form had made them eligible to be drafted into the military. With a few exceptions, males in the U.S. must register with the Selective Service between the ages of 18 and 25 regardless of whether they complete the FAFSA. Those who do not register, however, are ineligible for federal student aid. Question No. 22 on the FAFSA—which female applicants are directed to skip—does ask males ages 18-25 if they are registered in the Selective Service System, and prompts them to register over the internet, reported MarketWatch.
The Selective Service said on its official Twitter account Friday morning that its website was experiencing high traffic volume "due to the spread of misinformation."
The U.S. Education Department verifies that every male student who fills out the FAFSA has also registered for Selective Service. If the student was legally required to register for Selective Service but never did it, their school will be notified and federal funds will not be released, Karen McCarthy, the director of policy analysis for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), told MarketWatch.
There are cases in which schools can decide to release funds even if the student did not register for Selective Service, McCarthy noted. But schools are only allowed to do that if the student can prove they did not knowingly break the law by not registering.
NASFAA has long advocated against tying federal student aid to Selective Service status, McCarthy said. The group has also lobbied against a question on the FAFSA about whether the applicant has had any drug-related criminal convictions. Both questions have nothing to do with whether a student is eligible for federal student aid, McCarthy added.