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Government shutdown could affect funding for higher education


Monday, September 30, 2013

For the past several days top politicians on both sides of the aisle have been discussing ways in which to reduce the possibility of a government shutdown. With neither side willing to concede key points in the Congressional spending plan for the next fiscal year, a shutdown has gone into effect at this point, reported CNN. According to Inside Higher Ed, a prolonged shutdown could negatively impact student financial aid.

In 2011, the last time a government shutdown was thought possible, officials at the U.S. Department of Education said that the administration of student loans, Pell Grants and other forms of financial aid would be unaffected in the short term, despite the necessity of furloughing up to 94 percent of its staff. Fortunately for students, the shutdown was narrowly averted.

If Congress cannot agree on how to move forward with its spending bills for the next fiscal year, a prolonged shutdown of a week or more could have serious consequences for millions of students at colleges and universities across the country.

CNN reported that Republican opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, is at the heart of the debate. As lawmakers did not come to an agreement before midnight on Sept. 30, the Department of Education is designated as partially closed, however, Direct Loans and Pell Grants will continue to be administered.

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