Understanding Selective Service Registration for Male Students: What You Need to Know

When it comes to filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), male students often come across a section that asks whether they would like to register for Selective Service. While many may wonder about the significance of this requirement and its implications on their financial aid eligibility, it is crucial to understand that the obligation to register for the draft remains in effect even after the Vietnam War came to an end.

In this article, we will delve into the details of Selective Service registration and explore its impact on male students in the United States.

Who Needs to Register with Selective Service?

Under the law, nearly all male U.S. citizens and male aliens residing in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register with Selective Service.

Failure to comply with this mandate can have far-reaching consequences such as ineligibility for federal student loan and grant programs, including Pell Grants, Federal Work Study, and Stafford Loans.

State Financial Aid and College Admissions Requirements

In addition to federal implications, several states in the U.S. have made Selective Service registration a prerequisite for state financial aid and for matriculation at public colleges and universities.

This means that male students who fail to register may face challenges in accessing both federal and state-based financial assistance options, limiting their ability to afford higher education.

Who Must Register?

To ensure clarity, let’s examine the different scenarios where registration with Selective Service is mandatory:

Male U.S. Citizens

All male U.S. citizens, regardless of their place of residence, and male permanent resident aliens living in the U.S., born after December 31, 1959, must register with Selective Service on or after their 18th birthday.

Male Non-Citizens

Male non-citizens, including illegal aliens, legal permanent residents, seasonal agricultural workers, and refugees, who establish residency in the U.S. before their 26th birthday are also obligated to register with Selective Service.

Disabled Individuals

Even if facing physical disabilities that may disqualify them from military service, disabled men who can independently move in public, with or without assistance, must register with Selective Service.

Transgender Women

Transgender women, whether U.S. citizens or immigrants, who were assigned male at birth but have undergone a gender change, are required to register with Selective Service.

Conscientious Objectors

Conscientious objectors are also expected to register with Selective Service. In the event of a draft, they can file a claim for exemption based on their religious or moral objections. However, the requirement to register remains unchanged.


While individuals may hold differing opinions about the necessity of Selective Service registration, it is crucial for male students in the United States to understand the implications of non-compliance.

Although the likelihood of the draft being reinstated is low, failure to register can significantly impact financial aid eligibility, as well as affect other aspects of life, such as obtaining a driver’s license, pursuing higher education, or finding employment.

Therefore, male students are strongly advised to register with Selective Service when completing their FAFSA® application. By doing so, they can ensure their access to various financial aid opportunities and protect their future endeavors.

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