''The message is simple: no registration, no money.'' So said Education Secretary Terrel H. Bell Jan. 21 in announcing new regulations tying federal student aid to draft registration. Scheduled to go into effect in July, the new law will affect about 2.5 million young men and $8 billion in loans and grants, Monitor correspondent Brad Knickerbocker reports.
The law (an amendment to the Military Selective Service Act) was passed by Congress and signed by President Reagan last September. But how well it works remains to be seen.
National student organizations are preparing for a lobbying blitz in Washington this spring to seek repeal. A suit has been filed in federal court in Minnesota contesting the law. Other colleges and universities are expected to join that suit or file their own. And some institutions have said they will provide loans themselves rather than comply.
Under the proposed regulation (to be issued in final form this spring), students must prove to university loan officers that they have registered for the draft as required by law. Critics say it discriminates against less wealthy students, violates constitutional prohibitions against self-incrimination, and infringes on academic freedom by making colleges law-enforcement agents for Uncle Sam.
The Selective Service System has seen considerable improvement in draft registration compliance since President Reagan last year made it clear he thinks it is necessary. More than 9 million young men have registered - 94 percent of those required to do so.