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College Student Military Recruitment FAQ

Q: Are schools required by law to allow military recruitment on campus?
A: While schools can bar military recruiters from campus, they can lose federal funding if they prohibit military recruitment but welcome other job recruiters. There is no penalty if a school bans all employment recruiters, military and private, from campus.

Q: What level of recruiter access is required to prevent loss of federal funding?
A: The U.S. Supreme Court has held that colleges must provide military recruiters the same access as other potential employers. For example, if a school sends out e-mails announcing that recruiters for accounting firms will be visiting campus, it must do the same for military recruiters. However, the First Amendment protects the content of those e-mails and other communications, even if they contain an anti-military message.

Q: Does barring military recruiters from campus affect financial aid?
A: No. Student and school financial aid agreements are not affected.

Q: Can military recruiters obtain information on individual students without their consent?
A: Yes, recruiters may request “directory information” on any student enrolled or formerly enrolled at a school. Schools do not need the students’ consent to provide directory information to recruiters so long as the school’s definition of “directory information” is made available to students.

Q: What is “directory information”?
A: Directory information may include a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student. The school must publicly define what it considers directory information.

Q: Where can students find the school’s definition of directory information?
A: Colleges and universities must publicize their definitions of directory information, but they have discretion over how they do it. Many schools provide the definition in student handbooks or in registration materials, but it varies from school to school.

Q: Will students be notified when their information is given to recruiters?
A: Don’t depend on it. Schools are not required to notify students when potential employers, including military recruiters, are provided students’ directory information. Also, schools do not have to give students an opportunity to withhold their directory information from military recruiters.

Q: Can a student request that his/her information be withheld from military recruiters?
A: Yes. A student can notify his school in writing that he does not want his directory information provided to military recruiters. However, this might prevent the school from providing that student’s information to private employment recruiters as well. Post-secondary schools are not required to maintain separate opt out lists for military and non-military recruiters. If this is of concern to you, be sure to check with your school before you opt out.

Q: Are there human rights implications of military recruitment on college campuses?
A: Yes. The United States is a signatory to an international law document known as the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict . When the US signed, it set the minimum age for military recruitment at 17. The Protocol also imposes minimum safeguards for the recruitment of 17-year-olds. For instance, all recruitment of 17-year-olds must be done with a parent or guardian’s consent and with informed consent of the youth.

Finally, the U.S. must take all feasible precautions to ensure that soldiers under the age of 18 do not take part in hostilities. Despite this, the US deployed over 60 17-year-olds to active combat zones in 2003 and 2004. Approximately 1,500 17-year-olds complete basic training each year.

If you are interested in learning more about the Optional Protocol, and the human rights implications of recruiting youth for military service, please visit the American Civil Liberties Union web site:

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