Students feel the effects of the government shutdown

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 The partial government shutdown has officially surpassed the four-week mark, making history as the longest shutdown the United States has ever endured. On the surface, it may seem like nothing has changed. School is still operating under regular schedule, professors and staff are still showing up to work and attendance is still being taken. 

Though the disruption of a partial government shutdown is not extreme, there are still looming consequences. The effects from this event are real and are being felt by some students, staff and community members.

To preface, financial aid is not going to disappear. In fact, most financial aid, including grants, are not directly affected by the shutdown. However, issues with government organizations like FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) may have occurred. Students that already completed their FAFSA for the full academic year were unaffected, and will remain unaffected, by the shutdown. Incoming students, starting in the 2019 Spring Semester, however, may have experienced hiccups.

Delays in the application process may occur in times of a government shutdown. Being able to receive and provide adequate documentation can be difficult when the federal government takes a hit. A large part of the FAFSA application process is providing information regarding parent income, which comes from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). Many of the operations carried out by the IRS, also a federal organization, are postponed during a government shutdown. 

“Students that were just enrolling during December and January and filling out their FAFSA’s were having issues due to the IRS having to withhold information and documentation that is necessary to fill out the FAFSA form,” said Charlotte Karnes, a junior political science major at Marshall.

Being able to provide information on parental income can be a crucial part of being able to receive government funding, and for some students, receiving parental income is crucial for keeping their heads above water. 

Around 800,000 federal employees are scrambling to make ends meet living without a salary during the partial government shutdown. University students across the nation, including those at Marshall, sometimes rely on the wages of their parents or guardians for various expenses. When a steady income is taken away, the entire family feels the aftershock. 

“This could cause parents and/or students to get backed up on bills, such as rent, utilities [or] payments being made toward their or their child’s education,” said Karnes.

Living paycheck to paycheck is a reality for some college students and their families. When a shutdown goes on for this long, the waiting game can take a harsh toll on one’s finances and savings. Especially at this time of year when there are added expenses like books and supplies for class, on top of things like groceries, food and classes.

Individuals who are affected by the government shutdown, or who have friends or family affected by the government shutdown, can keep an eye open for local businesses trying to ease the distress of living without a paycheck. Specifically, in Huntington, the 8th Street Barbershop is offering free services to those not receiving their wages during the shutdown. Additionally, the Facing Hunger Food Bank is offering meals and other resources to affected workers.

Though not everyone feels the repercussions of this ongoing situation, the impact is evident. There is no time limit on how long this shutdown may last, but the Huntington and Marshall communities are making clear efforts to move forward. As progress at the White House remains at a stand-still, life, work and school are all still in session. 

Trey Delida can be contacted at [email protected]

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