Partial shutdown complicates financial aid process, research grants

The monthlong government shutdown has halted new research funding and slowed students’ ability to receive tax documents.
Over $165 million for MU’s research funding came from the federal government in 2017. | Graphic courtesy of research.missouri.edu

MU has experienced slight disruptions in research funding and financial aid since the start of the U.S. government partial shutdown.

The lack of funding for some governmental agencies has halted processes necessary for students to obtain tax documents and research funding, according to Liz McCune, associate director of the MU News Bureau.

“Research will continue, but new projects might be delayed,” McCune said. “We’ll work as closely as we can with federal agencies to ensure research is not interrupted.”

More than $165 million of 2017 funding for MU’s research came from the federal government, according to that year’s annual report from the Office of Research, Graduate Studies and Economic Development.

The shutdown, which started Dec. 22, 2018, has left the Internal Revenue Service without funding. McCune said this interrupts MU’s financial aid system because students often need to provide tax information from the IRS when applying for aid.

“[The Office of Financial Aid] is working with students who experience difficulties obtaining tax documentation from the IRS,” McCune said. “The U.S. Department of Education has provided additional guidance to make it easier for students to help mitigate the IRS shutdown.”

The Education Department uses students’ tax documentation to determine an Expected Family Contribution, which factors into need-based grants, according to the FAFSA website.

The deadline for MU students to apply for financial aid through FAFSA is Feb. 22. According to the university’s website, 80 percent of MU students receive financial aid.

While the shutdown has lasted more than a month, there may be an opportunity to reopen the government soon. The New York Times reported the U.S. Senate will vote Jan. 24 on two bills, one with $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall and one without, to reopen the government.

Once the government reopens, MU students will be able to receive tax documentation from the IRS and new research grants may be appropriated.

Edited by Anne Clinkenbeard | aclinkenbeard@themaneater.com

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