Monday, October 1, 2012

Selective Service and FA (Part 2)

Last week's post dealt with mostly exemptions from Selective Service and the few scenarios that could come up where registration isn't required. How do you prove that registration wasn't a requirement? If it's obvious that the student wasn't required to register, then the student doesn't need to obtain a letter from the Selective Service. Instead, all the students needs is some piece of documentation that would clear them from registration. The list below would exempt eligible noncitizens:
  • proof of birth date on passport, driver's license, birth certificate, etc.
  • proof of immigration date on I-94 form, passport, or a letter from USCIS stating the date
  • members in the US on a valid visa and between the ages of 18-25, then an I-20 form (student visa form), other valid U.S. passport visa stamp with expiration date (but the expiration date must be after the student turns 26)
If a student who hasn't registered yet and hasn't reached 26 yet fills out a FAFSA, then the student can be registered with Selective Service through the CPS. But if the student hasn't registered and is past 26, a C code will come back on the ISIR (SAR for the student). What do you do if the student hasn't registered yet?

Unfortunately, this is a very tricky situation. The student has to prove to the school that they did not "knowingly and willfully fail to register". The school is in a very tight predicament because it is really up to them as to if the student is eligible or not. Many schools have chosen to create policies on this subject, and some honestly find it less scary to just use the older, stricter rules of "you didn't register, then you get no aid". Some schools will have a process as to determine how to figure out if the student didn't register on purpose.

To start out with, if the student doesn't meet one of the criteria from above or from last week's post, then they have to write to the Selective Service and get a status information letter showing the failure to register. In writing to the Selective Service, the student should give as much detial as possible. If the status information letter comes back as a general exemption letter (which will have a code between E1-E8) or a "DOB before 1960" letter (which uses code NR), then the student was exempt. If there is any other code, then the school has to make the determination. Sometimes, information in the letter can be used to help with the decision. In the letter, it will say that "the final decision regarding the student’s eligibility rests with the agency awarding funds", which is the school on behalf of the Dept of Ed.

There are three things to consider when trying to make the determination if the students "knowingly and willfully failed to register". Those questions are where the student lived between the ages of 18-25, whether the student thought they'd already registered, and why the student claims they weren't aware of the requirement.

If the school makes their decision, then there is no appeal process. The only appeals a student can make is if they have provided the school with documentation the proves they are eligible and the school denies them, then the Dept of Ed will hear an appeal proceeding for that one reason. This regulation can be found in 34 CFR 668.37(f).

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