The federal government’s Oct. 1 shutdown should have limited effects on MU students’ federal financial aid.
Students who were scheduled to receive financial aid for the 2013-14 year will still receive their aid on schedule if they have not already received it, according to the Student Financial Aid office.
On Tuesday, the office tweeted, “We anticipate limited impact to Federal Student Aid delivery and repayment functions during the government #shutdown.”
Nick Prewett, director of Student Financial Aid, said students should not be worried because of the shutdown.
He said the shutdown came as a shock to some, but the financial aid office is more than prepared to make sure students get their aid.
“We got word three or four days before the shutdown that, should it happen, students would still receive the aid they are scheduled to receive, and those that had already received it would be fine,” Prewett said.
Some students worried their federal loans and grants would be in jeopardy.
Stephen Champion, a senior hospitality management major, said he was concerned about the federal loans he uses to pay for tuition and books.
“When I heard about the shutdown, my first concern was for my federal loans and grants,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if those would be affected or not, and it left me with lots of questions. I am hoping that Mizzou students will be able to get their loans and grants on time, even if the shutdown continues for a while. ”
Prewett said the government shutdown will not affect this year’s scholarships.
“The way financial aid works is that it is funded under the previous year’s budget, so students shouldn’t see an impact for this school year,” Prewett said.
Prewett said losing the ability to contact the U.S. Department of Education with questions has been a hindrance.
“One challenge we have is that, because of the shutdown, if we do have any questions or concerns we are not able to contact the U.S. Department of Education for clarification because all of their staff is furloughed,” Prewett said.
Prewett said if the debt ceiling is not raised, it could become harder to obtain aid from the government.
Freshman Monique Kurz said she was worried that was the case.
“It wasn’t so much the shutdown that worried me about my aid, but the debt ceiling,” she said. “Being from a middle-class family, it is already hard for me to get federal aid, and I don’t get that much from the government. If the debt ceiling isn’t fixed, I worry I won’t be able to get that extra aid next year, and this shutdown could make it take even longer to fix it.”
While the shutdown will not have any effect on students who have aid for the 2013-14 year, it could make receiving aid for next fall harder if it continues.
As many as 4,000 student aid processors are on furlough as of now, and if the shutdown continues past a week, only about 6 percent of the department's total employees would report to work, making Free Application for Federal Student Aid processing times longer, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s website.