NAICU Washington Update

Department of Defense Issues Proposed Solomon Amendment Regs

May 15, 2007

The Department of Defense has published proposed regulations to implement changes to the Solomon Amendment dealing with access to campuses and students by military recruiters.

The Solomon amendment provides that federal funding to an institution of higher education may be withdrawn if the institution has a policy or practice that prohibits military recruiting on campus, prohibits access to student directory information for the same purpose, or maintains an anti-ROTC policy. The 2004 amendments to the law (see WIR, 10/12/04) specify that military recruiters must be treated "in a manner that is at least equal in quality and scope to the access to campuses and to students that is provided to any other employer."

The proposed regulations published on May 7 define "equal in quality and scope" to mean "the same access to campus and students on campus provided to the nonmilitary recruiter receiving the most favorable access." The proposals include specific provisions on dissemination of military visit information, scheduling of visits, recruiting locations, enforcement of policies related to the recruitment "climate," and student participation in recruiting activities.

The 2004 amendments also clarified that federal student financial aid and related funds going to institutions are not included in the funding restriction. The preamble to the proposed regulations specifically identifies SEOG, work-study, Perkins loans, Pell grants, and guaranteed and direct federal loans as programs that are not included. Also part of the preamble is a clarification of the application of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to the provision of student information to military recruiters.

Briefly, the FERPA clarification states that if a student has stated in writing that "directory information" not be released to any third party, then this information will not be provided to military recruiters. However, if an institution has a policy of not releasing any (or a portion of) the student-recruiting information included in the Solomon amendment as part of its FERPA directory information policy, it must still provide military recruiters with the requested information for all students who have not exercised their general right to "opt-out" under FERPA. The institution must comply with such a request from military recruiters even if they would not make the information available to the general public. The preamble also notes that "a special opportunity for a student to decline the release of student-recruiting information is not necessary or appropriate."

The proposed regulations are available on line.

The public comment period on the proposals will close on July 6, 2007.

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