Proof of Registration for Draft Is Required of Aid Applicants
Washington--Young men who cannot present documented proof that they have registered for the draft will be prevented from receiving federal aid to attend college under new rules published by the U.S. Education Department last week.
Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell, accompanied by the director of the Selective Service System, Maj. Gen. Thomas K. Turnage, unveiled the new regulations at a press conference here on Jan. 21.
"By this means the government is saying bluntly that taxpayer funds will not be used to provide a college education for students who fail to comply with the Selective Service registration requirements," Mr. Bell said. "The message is simple: No registration, no student aid."
"Men are required to register by law," added General Turnage. "If a man does not accept the basic responsibilities of a society, he has no claim to the benefits of that society."
A number of colleges and universities across the country--including the entire University of Minnesota system--have complained about being thrust into a "policing" role with respect to enforcement of the registration law and have saidthey will not comply with the new rules.
Mr. Bell said that, at this time, the Education Department has not yet decided how to deal with the recalcitrant colleges.
"It is the law, we have a responsibility to administer it, and institutions of higher education have a responsibility to cooperate with us," he said. "We don't want to menace or threaten anyone."
New Regulations Published
Last fall, the Congress passed, and President Reagan signed into law, an appropriations bill for the Defense Department that contains an amendment prohibiting nonregistrants from receiving student fi-nancial aid to attend college.
The regulations published last week outline how the government intends to force compliance with the new law.
The proposed rules would require all applicants--male and female--for federal financial aid in the upcoming school year to sign a statement affirming that they have registered for the draft, or if they have not, affirming that they are not required by law to do so.
Currently, all applicants for financial aid must sign a statement of educational purpose confirming that they will spend all funds that they receive toward their education.
Mr. Bell said that "it is anticipated" that the new statement of registration compliance will be combined with the old statement, and that the two will appear on the 1983-84 student-aid report and on a supplementary form used by students to request that their Pell Grant awards be paid directly to them instead of to their college.
In addition, those students who were required to register for the draft will have to provide their colleges and universities with copies of the registration-acknowledgement letters that the Selective Service System sent to them after they fulfilled their obligation to sign up.
The draft-agency form, which (SSS Form 3A or 3A-S) contains a line advising registrants to keep it as proof of registration.
Colleges and universities will not be allowed to disburse federal aid to students who fail to sign the statement or who fail to supply the confirmation letter.
If a student happens to misplace his letter, however, he is to contact the Selective Service, which will send him a copy within two weeks.
The new regulations also address the problem faced by college-bound high-school seniors who will turn 18--and therefore, will be required to register--between the time required to apply for federal college aid and the time that they will be required to make their first tuition and housing payments.
Those students will be allowed to to submit to their college's student-aid officer a notarized affadavit affirming that they have registered for the draft but have not yet received their confirmation form from the Selective Service.
The regulations contain a sample affidavit of registration compliance that such students can copy, sign in the presence of a notary public, and turn over to their school's student-aid office.
However, if those students fail to present their actual confirmation letters to their college within 120 days of the date that they signed the affidavit, the college will be required to force them to repay all federal aid that they have received.
Late last year, a Minnesota student group filed suit in federal district court challenging the constitutionality of the aid-cutoff law.
Immediately after the Secretary's press conference, representatives of three student groups--the United States Student Association, the National Coalition of Independent College and University Students, and the National Organization of Black University and College Students--said their organizations would lobby the Congress to repeal the new law.