If you’re filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, then you’ve probably come across the issue of registering with Selective Service. Do you really need to register with the Selective Services to get financial aid for school?
The short answer is, if you’re a male, yes.
Selective Service registration is something that all males between the age of 18 and 25 must do. While it doesn’t automatically put you in the military, in the case of a draft, it means you could be called up to serve. If you’re called, you may not actually have to go into the military. First, you’ll be evaluated for physical, mental, emotional, and moral fitness.
Registering with Selective Service is mandatory if you want federal financial aid for school regardless of whether you want to serve in the military or not.
What Happens If I Don’t Register?
Federal loans come with relatively low interest rates, a variety of repayment plans, and good protections. You must also register with the Selective Service to be eligible for Pell Grants, which are free money for school that doesn’t have to be repaid. For males, all of these federal aid programs are only available to you if you’ve registered with Selective Service.
Choosing not to register doesn’t just affect your financial aid. Once you graduate college — assuming you found alternative sources of funding such as private student loans — you will be unable to get many types of jobs. Federal, state, and most contract employment requires that you be registered with Selective Service. For foreign-born immigrants to the United States, registration is required to get citizenship as well.
Not registering for Selective Service is a felony punishable by a fine up to $250,000 and up to five years in jail. Some states have their own penalties on top of that. If you reach the age of 26 without registering, you’ll find that you’re permanently barred from many things as well. Registering is mandatory, whether you want financial aid or not.
How Can I Register?
If you’re a male U.S. citizen between the ages of 18 and 25, you can go to the Selective Service website to register regardless of whether you’re living in the United States. If you’re 17 and 3 months, you can complete early registration by completing a form at any U.S. Post Office. When filling out the FAFSA, you can also register there. If you are under 18, the Department of Education will not submit your information until you turn 18.
No matter what your personal feelings are about joining the military, politics, or the federal government, registering with Selective Service is necessary if you want financial aid for school. What’s more, it’s the law. Choosing not to register can results in a slew of negative consequences. Your best bet is to simply register as soon as you turn 18.