Government Shutdown and Financial Aid

On Sept. 30, 2015, the United States Senate avoided a government shutdown by voting to continue funding for federal agencies until Dec. 11. This means that the “shutdown crisis” will reoccur this winter. While students are not on the forefront of most minds when worrying about this issue, a government shutdown could affect many of us here at William Jewell College and on campuses across the nation.

Papers and projects that necessitate federal information would be impeded. Sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Archives would not be regularly updated due to the lack of available payment. Additionally, research funding coming directly from a federal source could be cut off, meaning that long-term projects could be forced onto the back burner. Federal research could also be stalled or stopped completely, meaning that any work on current government scientific activity would be impossible.

Student travel could become an issue, as the process of attaining a passport and student visa would most likely become more delayed and drawn out. However, Jewell funds geared at studying abroad, such as the Journey and Hall Grants, are privately funded. This means that the actual financial ability to travel would not change for any students here.

The amount of federal aid students receive should not be affected.

“Any grant that students receive—whether it be federal Pell Grant or a supplemental grant of some sort from the federal government—those are done based off of mandatory funding that’s already put in place for this current school year,” said Daniel Holt, the College’s director of financial aid and scholarship services.

However, Holt explained the ways that loan repayments could become more confusing and drawn out, particularly if a student wants to change his or her payment plan.

“It’ll be a more time consuming process because the customer service on the Department of Education’s side of things won’t be as efficient during the shutdown. So that’s where most of the impact’s going to be, is for students receiving services from the Department of Ed. currently,” he said.

Interest rates and loan amounts would not be affected.

Because Jewell is a private institution, it does not receive any significant federal funding. This means that a shutdown would not impact the College’s ability to function in general, award scholarships or hire new employees. Public universities, however, could begin to see impacts if the shutdown lasted for an extended period of time.

Overall, a government shutdown would mostly affect customer service areas of Jewell students’ financial aid processes.

Any questions regarding private or federal aid can be addressed to the College’s Financial Aid Office.

Erin Melton

Erin Melton is a senior Literature and Theory major and French and Religious Studies minor. She is the chief copy editor and loves camels.

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