When you file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), question 22 allows you to sign up for the Selective Service System (SSS). The FAFSA is a free document that you can fill out to learn more about your eligibility for financial aid, including federal student loans, grants, work-study, institutional scholarships, and more.
The SSS provides the Department of Defense with a list of names in the case of a national emergency that requires a draft. When they turn 18, male U.S. citizens and immigrants must register with the Selective Service System.
Keep reading to learn the answer to, “What is the Selective Service System and FAFSA connection?” and what it might mean for you or your student.
Do You Have to Register for Selective Service to Receive Financial Aid?
As mentioned, you do not have to register for Selective Service in order to receive financial aid. If you failed to register in the past and you weren’t exempt from registering for Selective Service, the Department of Education would not allow you to obtain federal financial aid. This meant you could lose access to student loans, grants, and work-study programs. The rule changed due to the FAFSA Simplification Act of 2020.
Men must register for Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday, though the Selective Service accepts late registrations up until age 26. Note that those who were assigned the male sex at birth must register. Failure to do so is a felony and punishable by up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
You may also forfeit the following benefits if you fail to register for the Selective Service:
• State-based student loans and grant programs in certain states
• Federal job training under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
• Federal and possible state and local jobs
• Delay of U.S. citizenship proceedings for immigrants
Why the Question Is Still on FAFSA
The Selective Service question gives those who must register an easy way to fill out the draft form — you can do it at the same time you file the FAFSA.
How to Answer the Question about Selective Service
It’s helpful to know why people must register for Selective Service. If a crisis requiring a draft were to occur, those required to register would be called through a random lottery number based on year of birth. You’d be examined for mental and physical fitness before being drafted into the Armed Forces.
You can now completely skip over the question about registering for Selective Service on the FAFSA if you choose.
Recommended: FAFSA 101
Is It Better to Register for Selective Service Through FAFSA?
It’s not “better” to register for Selective Service through either the FAFSA or through the Selective Service System website as long as you complete one or the other. However, if you have to fill out both the Selective Service registration and the FAFSA, it may make sense to fill out the FAFSA and take care of both at once.
If you register on the Selective Service website, you’ll provide your:
• Social Security number
• Phone number
• How you learned about Selective Service registration
Will Applying for Financial Aid Get Me Drafted?
Applying for financial aid will not automatically “get you drafted” into the military.
What Happens if I Don’t Submit the FAFSA?
If you don’t submit the FAFSA, you could lose out on thousands of dollars of financial aid to help you attend college. Here are some of the different types of financial aid you could lose out on by not filing the FAFSA:
• Grants: Grants are a type of financial aid that you don’t have to pay back and can come from the federal government, such as qualifying for Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants. You may also lose out on state grants as well.
• Scholarships: Scholarships also do not have to be repaid and they can come from colleges and universities based on the results of the FAFSA. They can be based on academic merit, talent, or a specific academic area.
• Work-study: The federal work-study program allows you to earn money by getting a part-time job on campus.
• Loans: Federal student loans, which must be repaid, allow you to tap into student loans at a lower interest rate. You can borrow up to a certain amount over the course of your academic career. The government pays the accrued interest on subsidized loans while you’re in school part-or half-time while you repay the principal. In the case of unsubsidized loans, you’ll pay the interest that accrues while you’re in school as well as the principal.
You may also be able to access student loan forgiveness for military students and other types of aid. In addition to learning about FAFSA, it’s a good idea to organize your finances using a Ca$h Course guide for college students.
Upcoming Changes With FAFSA
In addition to the FAFSA Selective Service changes, other 2023–24 FAFSA changes include the removal of drug conviction eligibility questions and the retirement of the myStudent Aid app on June 30, 2022.
You’ll be required to fill out this question when completing the FAFSA, but drug convictions no longer affect your eligibility for federal student aid.
The myStudentAid mobile app launched in October 2018 to allow families to complete the FAFSA in app form. However, due to lack of use and families’ preferences of accessing StudentAid.gov on a mobile device instead of the myStudentAid mobile app, the myStudentAid mobile app was removed from app stores on July 10.
Other changes to the financial aid eligibility formula will affect the 2024-25 academic year, including fewer questions about untaxed income, a change in the term “Expected Family Contribution (EFC)” — it will become the “Student Aid Index (SAI).” The term makes it more clear that the SAI refers to an eligibility index for student aid, not the FAFSA amount — the amount a student will pay for school.
In addition to these changes, the parent who provides the most financial support for a student must complete the FAFSA and the discount for families with more than one child in college also goes away.
Important FAFSA Deadlines
The FAFSA opens on October 1 during each new academic year. There are a few different types of deadlines you need to consider. For the 2022-23 academic year, you must submit the FAFSA on June 30, 2023 by 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time (CST). Corrections or updates must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CST on Sept. 9, 2023.
In the past, Selective Service and FAFSA were intertwined. You’d be asked, “Are you registered with the Selective Service system on the FAFSA?” As a male, you were required to register in order to receive financial aid. In the past, if you failed to register and you weren’t exempt, you would see student loans denied to you, as well as access to grants and work-study programs. However, you no longer have to register for the Selective Service system for FAFSA. The FAFSA and Selective Service rule changed due to the FAFSA Simplification Act of 2020.
After exhausting their federal financial aid options, some borrowers may turn to private student loans to fill in the gap. While these can lack borrower protections afforded to federal student loans, they can be helpful if all other avenues of financing have been depleted.
1. Need a private student loan to cover your school bills? Because approval for a private student loan is based on creditworthiness, a cosigner may help a student get loan approval and a lower rate.
2. Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, you should fill out the FAFSA form. Many schools require it for merit-based scholarships, too. You can submit it as early as Oct. 1.
3. Would-be borrowers will want to understand the different types of student loans peppering the landscape: private student loans, federal Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans, Direct PLUS loans, and more.
Photo credit: iStock/SDI Productions
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