“Due to lapse in funding, the U.S. government has shut down.” This is the message that that was found on the United States government’s official website.
As of 12:01 EST on Oct 1, the United States Government began its fiscal year with no legislation on spending. This meant that many federal programs and agencies would not receive the necessary funds to operate.
Federal entities such as the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Park System will receive major cuts. However, Federal Student Financial aid will not immediately be affected, according to Kevin Multop, director of financial aid at Central Oregon Community College.
“What we’ve been told by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators,” Multop said, “is that in the short term everything is functioning as normal.”
This holds true for veterans benefits as well, according to the Veterans Affairs web site.
Affects on completion of FAFSA
Some students have been hindered by lack of accessibility to government agencies, according to Multop. The Internal Revenue Service is unable to provide tax documents to students needing to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Student veterans cannot communicate with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Benefits Administration, because its education benefits hotline is shutdown.
“These special case circumstances will start adding up,” Multop said. “If it’s a few days, we can work around that; the college will try to be as flexible as we can. All bets are off if it continues indefinitely.”
Long term effects of the shut down
The future is uncertain as the stalemate continues in Washington.
“My sense is that the government shutdown could go on a while,” said James Foster, political science professor at Oregon State University-Cascades. “There are no high level talks going on right now.”
At the center of the gridlock is the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”
The law, which was passed in 2009, will require all United States citizens to purchase health care by Jan. 1, 2013. Many Republicans in the House of Representatives are opposed, calling it an “overreach of government” according to Foster.
“They saw a government shutdown opportunity as a way to leverage,” Foster said.
The Republican controlled House and the Obama administration have had many battles since they took control of the House in 2010, according to Foster.
“It’s now very adversarial, very confrontational,” Foster said, “and it’s driven by very absolute positions on both sides of the aisle.”
This inability to compromise could cause even further damage as the Oct. 18 deadline to raise the debt ceiling approaches, according to Foster.
“Although the fight is over the Affordable Care Act,” Foster said, “the consequences could be very dire for perhaps students and perhaps the entire economy if we pass the Oct. 17 deadline without authorizing paying the debt.”
Kevin Multop is also concerned about a prolonged shutdown, which could affect major funding such as Pell Grant and Military Tuition Assistance for winter term.
“This is uncharted territory,” Multop said. “We are all crossing our fingers that [a solution] will be sooner rather than later.”