The United States government entered a partial shutdown one month ago, with thousands of federal workers going without pay and several federal agencies closing, causing gridlock across the country.
However, the Department of Education said the impact shouldn’t weigh too heavily on college students receiving federal financial aid.
The Department of Education determined a budget for the 2019 fiscal year prior to the shutdown. A statement made by the department mentioned that while Federal Student Aid is not directly impacted, certain processes and systems it depends on may have been affected. The Collegian reached out to Kansas State’s financial aid office regarding the possibility of students being affected by this, but requests for comment were not returned.
The Information for Financial Aid Professionals website will provide further guidance on any potential issues as a result of the government shutdown, the Federal Student Aid office said. The website will be continue to be updated throughout the shutdown.
Students’ ability to apply and qualify for new federal financial aid is not going to be hindered, and Free Application for Federal Student Aid applications will still be processed, although there is a slight risk that some students may experience a delay in the processing of their FAFSA.
The majority of the programs within federal student aid will still function—overdue loans will still be reported to credit bureaus, and if they’re really overdue, student loan debt collectors can still take over and begin the collections process.
However, students may have issues retrieving information from departments that were directly affected by the shutdown. The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Selective Service System, all have FAFSA databases that are used to verify eligibility and, according to a memo released on their website, processing may be hindered and information may not be up to date.
Overall, because the Department of Education’s budget was already set in stone, the effects will be minimal, but some students might still run into issues. In this instance, the Information for Financial Aid Professionals website will be a helpful guide. Students can also use the FAFSA help line at 1-800-433-3243.