Except in rare circumstances, the U.S. government’s shutdown will mainly impact students in their decisions to post political memes on Facebook.
Furloughing 800,000 federal workers and closing national parks, the shutdown began Oct. 1 when Democrat and Republican members of Congress couldn’t reach a compromise on issues of budget cuts. Although the issue has brought non-stop debate and made headlines, its impact on students is minimal unless their family members hold jobs in the government.
Joe Green, Dixie State University history and political science associate professor, said because 15 percent of the government has delayed its services through the shutdown, only students who wish to spend a day at Zion or other national parks will be directly affected. The ceased pay federal employees have seen mostly impacted families in the District of Columbia.
If history is any indication, Green said the last shutdown ended before more cuts reduced the government’s services more.
“There was a shutdown in 1995 right after the Gingrich revolution that lasted 17 days,” he said. “The Republicans had to yell ‘uncle’ in the end because public opinion was very much against the government shutdown.”
Although the 1995 government shutdown ended when the public voiced its concerns, Green said the range of blame is much smaller now than it was then, with fingers pointed at both President Barack Obama and Republicans.
Whether students felt an immediate impact or not, some wonder if the shutdown will strain federal programs they see as beneficial.
Tia Matthews, a junior integrated studies major from Las Vegas, said one program in particular helps a large demographic: moms who have fallen on hard times.
“I feel [Women, Infants and Children] (WIC) is beneficial to society, especially like single moms raising kids,” she said.
Despite these concerns, Green said he can’t see cases where students will feel any wrath.
“The only possible way it could affect students, that I can see, is if it interrupts the loans and grants,” he said.
J.D. Robertson, DSU financial aid executive director, said despite slashes to numerous federal departments, the shutdown’s length could bring changes, but as of now, students needn’t worry about their federal loans.
“Right now the government shutdown is not affecting students receiving financial aid,” he said. “Students can still apply for financial aid through FAFSA, and we can still pay students.”
If anything, Congress members understand the importance of helping citizens receive an education, Robertson said. During government sequestration earlier this year, cuts had no harm on Pell grants but impacted other federal departments and programs.
Robertson said as long as students are conscious of the terms their loans hold and how much money they owe, receiving financial aid isn’t a bad thing. They can count on receiving funds for school.
“As long as [students are] in good standing, [they’re] going to have eligibility for financial aid—whether that’s grants or loans or work study,” he said.