Student Aid and the Government Shutdown

Is your student aid affected by the government shutdown?

By Alexa Grigsby, Assistant Viewpoints Editor

Updated: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 23:10

In light of the recent government shutdown, scholarship-dependent college students all over the US are asking the same question: “Will the government shutdown affect my financial aid?” You will be glad to hear that they will be largely unaffected.

The Department of Education was one of the departments hit hardest by the shutdown, furloughing 95 percent of its staff. The good news: they are still processing Pell Grants and Direct Loan payments by not furloughing staff associated with those major loan programs. In addition, they will continue administering Pell Grants and Direct Loans with the help of contractors who have already been paid.  Just keep in mind that when working at 5 percent of normal efficiency, everything they do will be behind normal schedule.

The DoE’s website has not been updated since the shutdown was declared last week. However, the website does state that “the Department’s Grants Management system is up and running throughout this period, and grantees may continue to makedrawdown requests.”

The Federal Student Aid office of the DoE also released a statement on its website saying, “In the event of a government shutdown, we anticipate that there will be limited impact to the federal student aid application (FAFSA) process, to the delivery of student aid, or to the federal student loan repayment functions.”

On a darker note, the DoE warned government officials that should the government shutdown go on for longer than a week, programs across the country would be hurt, severely curtailing the cash flow to colleges and universities.

Colleges do continue to receive funds to support dropout prevention programs for disadvantaged students.

Another downside is that many of the jobs students are hoping to acquire after getting their degrees have become much less stable.

Students are not only students, so the shutdown might have an impact on you in other ways.

Cuts to the FDA mean that your food isn’t being checked.

If you are applying to a job which requires proof of citizenship, E-Verify is down and the social security office is closed.

With the absence of the National Transportation Safety Bureau, major roads around the country will be less safe.

If you receive food stamps or WIC, the state will cover you for a while, but the end of these services is near without federal assistance.

In short, you won’t be losing your student aid. It might come late, and the classes you attend might be of lower quality, but your aid is still coming though.

People who were fearing the college-pocalypse can wipe their brows. That doesn’t mean that we, as students, should celebrate. Lots of everyday services we’ve taken for granted have quietly dropped off the map. Even though we are safe for now, the light at the end of the four-year tunnel is looking pretty dim.