How the Shutdown Affects Students
The reality of how the government shutdown is affecting the county as a whole is continuing to sink in. When the shutdown will actually come to an end is very much open to interpretation. President Donald Trump has even stated that the shutdown might continue for months, or even years, if he does not receive funding for the border wall. While this is unlikely, this government shutdown may prove to be the longest in U.S. history. As the shutdown continues, questions will inevitably arise. As a student entering a new semester at CU Boulder, I have found myself wondering if the government shutdown will affect myself or my fellow students. As the shutdown occurred during our winter break, I imagined that it would surely have ended by this point. However, that is not the case.
The government shutdown has already been a hurtful force for many. New York Times writer Alan Blinder has stated that around 800,000 government-employed workers are living without their pay; this has created an abundance of problems, such as issues with mortgage and rent payments. Despite the pressure on Trump to at least reopen the government for a short period for discussion, it does not appear that this will occur within the next few days. The lack of pay for government employees may affect students second-hand. If a student has a family member who works as a government employee, or if a student works for the government, then that can lead to a lack of money coming into that household. However, a direct connection can be made between the government shutdown and students; finical aid and FAFSA.
As the new year has just recently passed, many newly submitted FAFSA forms are crucial in determining the financial aid for students. As of now, established financial assistance is still being distributed. However, the shutdown has made it more complicated to receive new finical aid. Without employees to gauge the incoming FAFSA proposals, many of the new applications for financial assistance are not being completed. Some students must merely estimate how much money they will receive with their financial aid. As stated by Monica Kast for USA Today on January 12th of 2019, “some students have found they need additional verification material from the IRS. However, the part of the IRS that allows them to access additional documents has been shut down.”
Without these financial aid documents being properly processed, students have found themselves wondering how their semester will play out. Indeed, even if the shutdown ends within the next few days, it is unlikely that these financial aid requests will be completed immediately. From personal experience, I can confirm that obtaining tax and identity records has become far more difficult. Without someone there to answer the phone, submitting my FAFSA was nearly impossible. I even worried, for a time, that my FAFSA would not be completed in time, and thus I would lose any hope for financial aid. Like many students in my position, this is not an option. For any students who may be concerned about completing their FAFSA during the government shutdown, try to take comfort in the knowledge that it will go through eventually.
The government shutdown is not something to be taken lightly. It as affecting many in profoundly negative ways. While the consequences of the shutdown may not be visible right away, they are still very damaging. It would be easy to ignore the shutdown as students, thinking that it does not upset our lives in any way, but this is just not the case. It must also be acknowledged that the shutdown has taken the pay away from many government workers and has made it impossible for a wide variety of essential programs to take place. The younger generations must be willing to educate themselves and to understand the repercussions of the shutdown in the county we live in. As students, it is vital that we know the world we inhabit. Regardless of whether a student has been affected by the government shutdown or if not, ignoring it for that reason alone and failing to acknowledge how destructive it is can prove to be an ignorant decision. I would implore the reader, student or not, to recognize what this shutdown is doing and who it is affecting.