As it stands now, we are living under the longest government shutdown in history. While government employees have been living without pay and inaccessibility to their workplaces, students and financial aid have remained in large part unscathed. However, as the government shutdown continues, that may no longer remain the case. Impact on FAFSA and Federal Student Aid Call Centers Currently, there is no impact to filing the FAFSA for financial aid purposes as the government has been fully funded for the 2019 year. However, students may have difficulty with a few of the database matching services and may receive an error as they try to submit their FAFSA online. Issues have been reported with the Selective Service Match, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to verify eligible non-citizen status, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) which identifies applicants who are ineligible to receive Title IV funds due to certain drug convictions, according to NASFAA.Most federal student aid call centers will continue to operate: • The Federal Student Aid Information Center will continue to answer calls from students and their families to 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). • The Direct Loan Consolidation Center will continue to answer borrower calls to 1-800-557-7392. • The various federal student loan servicers will continue to answer borrower calls. Call your servicer for any questions regarding the government shutdown. • The Default Resolution Group will continue to answer borrower calls to 1-800-621-3115.• The Total and Permanent Disability processing centers will continue to answer borrower calls, including the Nelnet Total and Permanent Disability Service at 1-888-303-7818 and the Veterans Disability Discharge Unit at 1-404-974-9490. • The Federal Student Aid Ombudsman will continue to answer calls to 1-877-557-2575. Get Transcript Unavailable As part of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Get Tax Transcript website will be unavailable during the government shutdown. This website allows students and their parents to get necessary tax documents for filing the FAFSA. While the unavailability of the website will have no impact on aid disbursement or those who filed the FAFSA before the shutdown, it may impact those families that waited to file the FAFSA and require tax documentation for whatever reason.If students encounter this issue, they should contact the financial aid offices of those colleges and universities to which they plan to apply for financial aid. Grants and Federally Employed Students While the impact to students isn’t widespread, there are students who are feeling the effects of the government shutdown immensely. Those that are working with federally funded grants are no longer receiving the finances necessary to fund their research. For those students that work with federal agencies or parks, there is no access to their job site. When these students don’t have access to their funds or research sites, their academic pursuits are put on hold, which impacts everything from their day-to-day responsibilities to their ability to graduate on time. Furthermore, there are students, employed by the government, who are unable to make tuition payments as a result of missing paychecks. According to Reuters, they have had to reach out to their colleges with requests for emergency funding for tuition, books and fees. Fortunately, many colleges and universities have demonstrated an understanding of the situation and a desire to assist students until the government shutdown has ended. If you’re a student and experiencing complications filing the FAFSA, gathering tax documents or funding your research, speak to the college or university that you attend or plan to attend. Administrators, financial aid officers and professors will be able to best walk you through what to do in the midst of the government shutdown so that circumstances don’t negatively affect your applications, ability to pay for school and academic pursuits.
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