What Happens to Your Student Aid in a Government Shutdown?
I am sure that you know the federal government is shut down, effective October 1, 2013. After a brief period of subconscious denial you realized that this same federal government is in charge of your financial aid. If that thought causes you to panic, I am glad you found this article so I can tell you… Don’t Panic!
Until Congress can agree on funding the federal government’s expenses, you need to know how the shutdown will affect you.
This depends on what grants you are awarded. The Pell Grant is the largest grant program and for the 2013-2014 academic year, its budget has been set. If you are currently receiving Pell Grant, it should continue as expected, although some students may experience delays in getting refund checks.
If you are receiving a different federal grant, like SEOG, it is more likely that the money will be withheld. If that program is funded when congress agrees on a budget, you could receive your money at that time.
Grants given by your college or state should be okay. Some of these grants may be tied to federal programs, and will be withheld until a budget agreement can be reached.
You should be fine on this front. If you currently have a loan, things should be fairly smooth and the support systems for questions and issues should remain mostly intact. Likewise, if you are applying for a new loan you should not experience too many issues. However, if we start measuring the shutdown in months and not days, watch out! That could have a major impact.
Sorry to tell you, but Federal Work-Study (FWS) money is part of the annual budget. With as many as 90% of the Department of Education staff being furloughed, this program gets shut off. While the government shutdown is in effect, you might be told not to go to work. Check with your employer and the financial aid office for details about how this affects you.
The good news is that the effects of a shutdown on your scholarships are minimal. Most scholarships are private dollars given directly to the college on your behalf. The shutdown should have minimal effect on those organizations. That said, you could experience delays in receiving refunds from your college. The longer the government shutdown lasts the more delays are possible. It’s probably best to contact the scholarship provider if you have specific questions about a scholarship.
For the most part, your financial aid is okay. It is unlikely that you need to drop classes or drop out completely. Hang in there, focus on your studies, and have faith that this will be figured out soon so things can return to normal.
Are you still concerned? Ask questions in the comments below or call one of our three College Planning Offices.