Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Modifying the Anti-Communist Oath Requirement for Student Loans.
[Released October 17, 1962. Dated October 16, 1962]
I HAVE given my approval to the action of the Congress eliminating from the National Science Foundation and National Defense Education Acts the section which required any scientist, teacher, or other student who applied for a loan or grant thereunder to execute an affidavit declaring that he does not believe in, belong to, or support any organization which believes in or teaches the overthrow of the United States Government by force or by an illegal method. It substitutes a provision making it illegal for anyone to apply for or receive any such loan or grant if he is a member of a Communist organization registered under the Subversive Activities Control Act. It also requires recipients of National Defense Education Act fellowships or of advanced foreign language training stipends and recipients of National Science Foundation scholarships or fellowships to furnish a list of their crimes and criminal charges, pending against them, of a serious nature.
The affidavit requirement caused 32 of our colleges to refuse to participate in the National Defense Education Act student loan program. Many others who participated did so reluctantly. Representatives of many of our colleges testified that the affidavit discriminated against college students and was offensive to them.
It is highly unlikely that the affidavit requirement kept any Communist out of the programs. It did, however, keep out those who considered the disclaimer affidavit a bridle upon freedom of thought.
I am glad to approve the legislation.
Note: President Kennedy had originally introduced this legislation in the United States Senate in 1959 while serving as a Member of that body.
As enacted, the bill amending the National Science Foundation and the National Defense Education Acts (H.R. 8556) is Public Law 87-835 (76 Stat. 1069).
John F. Kennedy, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Modifying the Anti-Communist Oath Requirement for Student Loans. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/236267