The Education Department has dropped a controversial rule requiring colleges to verify that male students receiving federal aid have registered for the draft, officials confirmed Thursday.
The rule had been set to go into effect this fall, but Education Secretary William J. Bennett decided that it was not necessary because a spot check found that 98% of all young men were registered with the Selective Service, the department said.
Must Still Sign Statement
Male students will still have to sign a statement on their aid application forms attesting that they have registered, but colleges will not be required to collect further documentation from the students.
Sharon Messinger, a spokeswoman for the Education Department’s Office of Postsecondary Education, said Thursday that the rule change would spare college officials “an avalanche of paper work.”
Some colleges had complained about being forced to police student compliance with the 1982 law that linked federal aid to draft registration. Students and civil liberties groups challenged that law, but the Supreme Court upheld it, 6 to 2, on July 5, 1984.
The Education Department published a notice in the Federal Register on June 28 revising its rules for enforcing the so-called Solomon amendment, named for its sponsor, Rep. Gerald B. H. Solomon (R-N. Y.). The new rule took effect 45 days after its publication.
Sharp Rise in Registration
After the Solomon amendment took effect in 1983, an additional 300,000 students registered for the draft.
Messinger said that the agency is considering matching computer tapes of student aid recipients against Selective Service records. The department will also continue to audit student records and turn over the names of any scofflaws to the Justice Department for further investigation.
Although the military is not now conscripting anyone, draft registration was reinstituted in 1980 under a law signed by President Jimmy Carter.