Government shutdown results in minimal UNC changes

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The current United States federal government shutdown, now reaching day 28, has not significantly affected the University of Northern Colorado.

According to Marvin Somero, the director of the Office of Financial Aid, students don’t need to worry about the shutdown affecting their financial aid. The US Department of Education is fully funded through September and is experiencing more indirect effects than direct effects; this is partially because grants such as the federal Pell Grant are still part of budget negotiations.

“It [the shutdown] potentially could delay students finding out what they’re eligible for the [20]19-[20]20 year in an official format,” Somero said. “The Department of Ed can publish an estimated Pell chart, but if it’s not official and final, then when they say it can vary, it can vary.”

Somero also said the Internal Revenue Service is currently performing maintenance work on its systems. The Department of Education uses these systems to allow families, applying for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, to provide information such as tax returns. This information comes from the IRS. Thus, a student applying for FASFA during this time cannot import information from the IRS into the application. According to Somero, because other government agencies are affected by the IRS maintenance, students’ FAFSA applications may have to be reprocessed once the maintenance is completed.

“So nothing that’s stopping a student from getting paid their financial aid for this semester, nothing that should be slowing down except for them [students] having to possibly get different forms of documentation instead of doing the IRS data retrieval,” Somero said.

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According to Somero, the IRS is not saying the maintenance is a direct result of the shutdown. The Financial Aid Office encourages students to apply for financial aid and complete the Fall 2019 FAFSA application before March 1.

Olga Baron, the executive director of the Center for International Education, described a similar situation. According to Baron, the shutdown is not severely impacting UNC’s international students; most of the United States’ immigration-related operations are still functioning and immigration benefits applications are still being processed. However, depending on how much longer the shutdown continues, backlogs could occur in various government agencies and incoming international students could face difficulties getting their visas processed.

The full UNC press release regarding the shutdown can be found on the university’s website.

Are you a UNC student or staff member that is being affected by the shutdown? Send an email to [email protected] with your own story.

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