Assisting individuals who believe it is wrong to register for the Draft
The Penalties for Not Registering
The organizers of the fund believe that the measures to enforce draft registration are contrary to American traditions of justice and support for conscience. The amendments violate the First Amendment guarantees of free exercise of religion. Federal law declares that nonregistrants are ineligible for federal grants and loans for higher education, assistance in pursuing professional education such as law and medicine, and enrollment in federally funded job training programs. (Some states have their own penalties for nonregistrants.) These penalties are enacted without due process and are automatic. The rights of conscience are denied. Those who oppose war and injustice are punished by being deprived of opportunities. An additional loss to society as a whole also occurs as individual talents and personal convictions are not nurtured.
Many Have No Alternative
In our society, people with economic resources can more easily afford the cost of refusing to be a part of war. It is the economically disadvantaged individuals who bear the brunt of these punitive measures. For those without alternative resources, registration provides the only access to civilian job training or higher education. Economic conditions deny them the possibility of taking a stand against war. FEAT seeks to provide opportunity for rights of conscience by relieving this economic pressure. Many nonregistrants are enrolled in colleges that do not offer them financial assistance and are not members of those few religious communities that provide support. FEAT is determined to help these young people of conscience.
“A weapon in the U.S. arsenal”
President Carter responded to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980 by urging draft registration “to send a signal to the Russians.” President Reagan reaffirmed the process a year later to show resolve to the USSR over the crisis in Poland. In 1994 President Clinton cut short an attempt by congress to end registration, saying its termination “could send the wrong signal to our potential enemies.” Selective Service officials have said draft registration is a deterrent and “a weapon in the U.S. arsenal like bombers and missiles.” In our age of gunboat diplomacy, registration for the draft is not only support for the threat of violence, but an integral part of the violence of threats. There is no provision in the Selective Service System for registrants to make known their conscientious objection to war. In fact, at the time of registration, no possible exemption or deferment claims can be made, as had been the case for conscientious objectors. Every registrant is placed in the pool of potential draftees. For the individual conscientiously opposed to participating in even the preparation for war, nonregistration is a necessary response.
FEAT administers supplementary loans to individual applicants. Priority is given to those who have no other sources of aid, either in the financial aid program of their school, from other agencies, or from their family. A modest list of alternative sources of aid for nonregistrants is included on this page. The loan program is a revolving fund. No interest accrues while the nonregistrant is in school. Upon graduation or termination of studies, a six-month interest-free grace period ensues, after which the loan begins to accrue interest at a rate comparable to federal guaranteed student loans. Money repaid to FEAT by past loan recipients is lent out again to new applicants. As of 2008, FEAT had lent out approximately $100,000 since its formation in 1986. More than forty individuals have benefited from the program. FEAT continues to be a small program with limited resources. The funds available cannot be expected to fully make up for the support that would have been available using taxpayers’ money.
FEAT stands ready to help persons denied job training under the Job Training Partnership Act and other employment programs funded by the federal government under Title IV. Since these programs vary from state to state and some of the funding goes to the employers, support has to be tailored to the particular situation.
Administration of FEAT
Loans are made after careful consideration by the Review Committee. Every safeguard is exercised to preserve the confidentiality of the process and the fairness of the awards. To be responsible to the fund’s donors, applicants are asked to explain why they refuse to register for the draft and prepare for war. Local contact persons who provide confidentiality and support can be intermediaries if needed. Loan recipients are asked to sign a promissory note, and the agreement is considered legally binding. All donations are used directly for the making of loans; all administrative costs are provided by CCW and the other sponsoring organizations.
Contact the Center on Conscience & War for more information about applying for a low-interest FEAT loan.
Alternative Aid for Non-Registrants
Church of the Brethren
Church of the Brethren General Offices
1451 Dundee Avenue, Elgin, IL 60120
Society of Friends
New York Yearly Meeting
15 Rutherford Place, New York, NY 10003
Mennonite Student Aid Fund
Mennonite Church USA
PO Box 173, Orrville, OH 44667
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Financial Aid for Studies
Vocation Agency – PC (USA)
100 Witherspoon, Louisville, KY 40202
COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES
In the 1980s some colleges established policies to provide for those who refused to register as a matter of conscience. Today few people remain in the school administrations that remember the policies. In addition, due to the ubiquitous nature of computer applications including for FAFSE the reality is it is very difficult to find funding at the school that is not limited by the failure to register. Students who fail to register as a matter of conscience are well advised to talk directly with their school administration and to seek scholarships or grant for which they specifically qualify through Candid’s “Grants to Individuals”.
- Center on Conscience & War
- American Friends Service Committee (Mid-Atlantic Region)
- Fellowship of Reconciliation
- War Resisters League
- Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (COMD)
- Lutheran Peace Fellowship
- National War Tax Resistance Coordination Committee (NWTRCC)
- Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
- The Peace Committees of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting and the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Society of Friends)