Image from  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.

Student Loans:
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.

Federal Work-Study:
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

  • Anders Peterson

    helpful and timely! thanks for the heads up, Jason!

    • Jason Combs

      Thanks, I hope students find this helpful.


    Great thanks this is very useful information!

    • Jason Combs

      Thank you, Victor.

  • Jessica Hendricks

    Glad you wrote about this – makes it much easier to understand and less scary!

    • Jason Combs

      Thank you, Jessica.

  • megan murphy

    hello i go to a small community college in michigan. For the first time ever, I took the pell grant as well as a small student loan. I have gotten emails from FAFSA (two of them) giving me a link to my information and it says that the money for the loan will be available the 4th of october. it is now the 4th of october but my school has not sent me any emails and i have not gotten an email saying it has been mailed. my school says they have no info on the dates for loans, but FAFSA specifically told me that my school is able to give me the date and answer questions. also, someone at my colleges finance office told me the pell checks are available tues oct 7th but then all the other ppl that work in finance told me they have no info and have not been given a date. i have two small children and i have car insurance and utilities due, i lost my job and now my ex decided to quit paying child support suddenly a couple of weeks ago. i am freaking out! i have $30 to my name until those checks come in and i don’t know what to do.

    • Jeffery Boyd

      Hi, megan, I am a father with a son in college and its sounds as you are in the same boat as my son was in, but just relax, sometime the system don’t show the refund but it gets mailed. So try to relax you will receive it soon if you havent already have. So this is not a problem. My sons refund was mailed out. So relax k, and I am sorry your baby father is not supporting you anymore. But relax again because God got your back ok. As long as you’re trying to better yourself things will work out. God bless you and relax k.

    • Jason Combs

      Stay calm, Megan. I know it can be hard dealing with all of these different departments. If you have the emails from the Department of Education but the school is saying they do not have your information then you might have an issue with either your enrollment information or something on your FAFSA. You can log onto and print a copy of your SAR. Take that to the school and see if that helps move your application through. Good luck.

  • Jeffery Boyd

    I applied for the stratford loan, and was approved about a month ago. I was told by financial aid at my local college that I would receive the loan payment on november 8 2013. Will I still receive that loan payment then? Thank you so very much.

    • Jason Combs

      You should receive your loan payment as expected. The Department of Education has said they will focus on keeping Pell Grant and student loan programs on schedule. Keep in contact with your college and be flexible.


    thanks a bunch!!!

  • Amanda

    You might have already said this but what about new FASFA applicants? I’m applying for FASFA to go to school in the Fall 2014. But technically it’ll be the financial year of 2014-2015. >_< thank you very much!!

    • Jason Combs

      Thanks for the comment, Amanda. You are correct that starting in the fall of 2014 places you in the next academic year. There are a lot of things that are scheduled to happen between now and your application. The government has to figure out the current budget issues and they have a debt ceiling to deal with next week. In addition to that the Higher Education Act (which is the legislation that set up the Pell Grant) has to be reauthorized before January 1, 2015. You can use our College Funding Estimator to plan your potential financial aid for next fall,

  • Michelle Fuller

    so what is the recourse for when you do receive an aid check paid directly to your apartment complex to cover your rental expenses and the check is returned with “stop payment” reasons???

    • Jason Combs

      Michelle, You will want to check with the college about this issue. The payment should be coming from them, not from the Federal Government. I would start at your Financial Aid Office. Good luck.

  • brenda

    What if you are receiving benefits through the Post 9/11 GI Bill as a dependent? Will these payments for your tuition, etc., be affected or will the schools still receive these without interruption?

    • Jason Combs

      Brenda, Veterans Education Benefits should continue through October. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs expects to have enough funding to make it that far. We don’t know what will happen if shutdown lasts past October 31.

      They have created a handy document that covers what veterans programs are affected, if you want more specifics.

  • Katie White

    My tuition is now due for my classes this semester and I have still not received my financial aid. This is because my mother didn’t do her taxes until August and they need her transripts to process them. She sent them in through the mail and they are still not available 2 months later. My question is, is the government shut down further delaying the processing of her taxes? and should it really be taking this long?

    • Jason Combs

      Katie, knowing about the processing system for the IRS is not our specialty. I have heard of many issues getting tax transcripts. I have heard some of the local offices are closed and that the call centers are understaffed. It would not surprise me if processing of taxes takes longer during the shutdown.

  • Betty Miller

    I need a copy of my transcript for my 2012 taxes to give to my college American Intercontinental University. Just Yesterday Oct 9 I sent a requested for this I am hoping and worried that the 5 to 10 days will be much longer. I am paying for the two courses I’m talking at this very moment because I could not get help from my Fafsa but I can’t afford to pay for my entire time in college. The reason I’m worried is my financial aid office has said that many students did not receive this transcript needed for our courses. Is there any insight in this. Can you answer will I get my transcript in 5 to 10 days or will I have to quit college.

    • Jason Combs

      Betty, I can’t speak accurately about the IRS processing. I know that the online transcript request is an automated process, it is probably your best chance of getting a copy in time. Talk to your college before you make a drastic decision, like dropping your classes.

  • Tyera Davenport

    I am currently a student in Chicago awaiting a Pell grant as well the date that it was suppose to be posted was Oct. 4th but it is now Oct.11th . Do you think this could be due to the government shut down?

    • Jason Combs

      It is possible, but I would contact your financial aid office to be sure you are not missing something. The Department of Education is still reporting that Pell Grants are being awarded on time.

  • christi

    I was suppose to recurve my student loan Oct. 4th but it still has not posted to my school account card. I was wondering if the government shut down is why I have not received my loan yet. Again it is direct deposited to my card.

    • Jason Combs

      It is unlikely that the shutdown is causing the delay with your student loans. I would call your college to be sure you are not missing paperwork.

  • Mary Daniels

    I have student loans that were supposed to disburse 10/15/2013 however when I looked today to make sure they were still on track the dates had been move from 10/15/2013 to 1/7/2014 is this due to the shutdown? My school is Ashford University Online.

    • Jason Combs

      Mary, it is strange that they would push it out that far, if it is only a delay in processing. The Department of Education has said, in their contingency plan, that student loans would continue to be processed. I would call your school and ask them why the date changed.

  • jonathan brucato

    I’m a first time student at a local community college and I applied for my student loan after the government shutdown and my student loan check is suppose to get mail out oct 25. Am I gonna see a delay on getting my check?

    • Jason Combs

      Jonathan, who gave you the Oct. 25 date? The validity of that date depends a lot on who is giving you the information.

      • jonathan brucato

        My school.

        • Jason Combs

          Everything I hear would suggest that it would be sent out by that date. A lot can happen in the next week, follow EducationQuest to hear about any updates.

  • Mrs.Mena

    Hi I was supposed to be getting my pell grant on the 9th of oct but today is the 22 and I don’t see any sign of the check. I went to the office and they told me to wait . I asked them if they are sure I’m recieving the pell grant they told me yes. All my friends recieved their large pell grant except me! Please help!

    • Jason Combs

      Your grant has to be processed by the school and credited to your account to cover your expenses. Remaining money can then be sent to you to cover your other expenses. It is possible that the school received it on the 9th and have not sent your refund. Ask them to give you a date when you will receive your refund. Any delays are likely to be with the college, so keep talking with them.

  • Lyra

    My college told me that I should expect my financial aid refund around mid October and I still haven’t. I have emailed them and haven’t received a reply yet. Should I be concerned?

    • Jason Combs

      Now that the shutdown is over and the government is back open things should be getting back to normal. Since they focused on grants and loans during the shutdown, you should be on target to get your money. I would not be worried yet, but keep in contact with your financial aid office.

  • Rachel

    I lost my financial aid. Long story short I was retaking classes that I had already passed in order to get more points for a nursing program and it brought down my completion rate below 67% because they don’t count twice. I receive an email from and it had me do the counseling. It said it would send it to my school (northwest Arkansas community college) and they will see if I qualify for any loans. Can I still receive the loans if I cant get FAFSA?

    • Jason Combs

      FAFSA is the application for grants and loans. It is very possible to be eligible for one kind of aid but not others, it all depends on your situation. I suggest you contact one of our offices, the specialists there can listen to your situation and provide some recommendations.