Top 5 things students should know about the government shutdown

Corryn Brock, Associate News Editor

As the days add to what is currently the third-longest U.S. government shutdown, some have expressed concerns about what the shutdown could mean for citizens as well as students in higher education. Here’s what you need to know.

1. The shutdown will not affect the student’s financial aid for the current school year as the funding has already been disbursed.

Melinda Mueller, chair of the Political Science Department, said she does not think incoming financial aid will be heavily impacted by the shutdown.

“Financial aid is something seen at every single university, and I really don’t think that the government would cut those funds as a part of a shutdown,” Mueller said. “It would have such a devastating affect on students.”

2. Federal research funds will be available, however no new payments will be made during the shutdown.

According to Inside Higher Ed, many recipients of National Science Foundation funds receive their funding in portions, and those who do may miss payments during the shutdown.

As the shutdown comes down, peer-review panels won’t meet and no new grants will be rewarded, which will delay new grants until the shutdown is over.

3. The shutdown is happening during a busy time for the Internal Revenue Service, who is currently working with around 12 percent of their staff.

According to CNBC, Russel T. Vought, the acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said tax refunds will still go out in spite of the shutdown.

It is currently unclear if the administration holds the legal authority to give tax refunds during a partial shutdown.

According to The Hill, House Democrats plan to pass legislation this week to fund the Treasury Department as well as the IRS in an attempt to push Republicans to end the shutdown, however it is not expected to become law.

Tax filing season is expected to begin on Jan. 28.

4.  Currently those most affected by the shutdown are government employees.

According to National Public Radio, more than 800,000 federal employees, a quarter of the government, are without pay as the government shutdown continues.

Findings from WalletHub show that the areas most affected by the shutdown are the District of Columbia, New Mexico, and Maryland. The areas least affected are Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Nebraska.

Illinois was ranked 41st on the list of those most affected by government shutdowns.

Methodology used to find this information included number of federal jobs in the area, federal dollars per capita and percent of families relying on SNAP (food stamp) benefits.

5. It is disputed whether or not this government shutdown has the potential to be the longest in history.

Mueller said she hopes the shutdown will not last long enough to get to that point.

“I don’t really know how much of what the president is saying is rhetoric, “ Mueller said. “Is it just to appeal to his base and make a really strong stance? If that’s the case there may be more room to compromise.

Mueller said she thinks is important to stay up-to-date on what is happening with the shut down.

“It’s important for all of us to follow the news,” Mueller said. “Use multiple sources to evaluate the information you’re receiving.”

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].