The partial shutdown of the United States government will reach its fourth week this weekend, if not reopened by Saturday.
The standoff between President Donald Trump and House Democrats over funding for a border wall has lasted since Dec. 22, and though many public institutions such as Ohio State have remained open, others have been closed and many employers have not received payment.
For Ohio State students, there have been delays for applying for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), though the university has allowed for flexible due dates on fees. Meanwhile, the university itself has had to pay $3 million out of pocket to fund research that had been paid by outside institutions.
Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty of Ohio’s 3rd Congressional District encompassing campus said students should not worry about financial aid.
“The ongoing government shutdown does not have a direct effect on federally subsidized higher education loans and grants, and students will still be able to apply for grants and fill out their FAFSA,” Beatty said.
Although students are still able to apply for FAFSA, many have experienced delays. Some were not able to pull their tax information directly into the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, where they are required to submit an IRS tax return transcript for the application, Chris Davey, Ohio State spokesman, said. This service has been unavailable during the shutdown.
“Ohio State has been flexible on verification due dates and waived late fees to reduce the effect on students,” Davey said.
Though students have continued to receive financial aid, researchers at Ohio State have not been able to receive money from some of the university’s top funders. Davey said agencies including the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, NASA and others “experiencing full or partial shutdowns account for about $100 million of Ohio State’s federal research funding per year.”
“As of Jan. 14, Ohio State had about $3 million in accumulated expenditures that would normally be billed to these sponsors,” Davey said. “For the time being, Ohio State can temporarily cover the costs of these unbilled expenditures.”
While Beatty addressed concern for student financial aid, she said her main focus is to be there for her constituents.
“Right now, some 800,000 workers in Ohio and across the country, their families, loved ones, and nearly all Americans are worried. My constituents are worried about mounting bills, their mortgage payments and their dwindling finances,” she said. “This is not fair. That is why during the government shutdown I am working to help my constituents negatively impacted.”
Beatty has helped create a hotline with other Central Ohio representatives — Republicans Steve Stivers and Troy Balderson — for Central Ohio workers impacted by the shutdown.
“By dialing 1-833-876-0937, constituents of the 3rd, 12th, and 15th Congressional Districts will be connected to the office of their respective representative if they are encountering issues with their employing federal agencies, such as obtaining approval to file for unemployment or seek outside employment,” a press release announcing the hotline said. “The OFIS [Ohio Federal Employees Impacted by Shutdown] Hotline can also provide information on certain publicly available resources for those affected by the shutdown, such as accommodations offered by major community banks.”
Beatty is also aware of how the shutdown is affecting students.
“Students everywhere often tell me they are frustrated, disappointed and dismayed that Washington doesn’t ever seem to be working [for] or listening to them,” she said.
Mike Carrell, Ohio State assistant provost and director of the Office of Military and Veterans Services, said that funding from the GI Bill — a federal program that helps service members, veterans and their dependents afford a college education — will not be affected by the shutdown.
“The GI Bill funds military students for the fiscal year and was signed on Oct. 1, 2018, and will last until September of this year,” Carrell said. “However, if the shutdown were to last until September then there is a chance military pay will be affected.”
To avoid that situation, John Harden, an Ohio State professor of political psychology, said the wall will need to be addressed.
“With [Trump] being elected largely on the emphasis of building the wall as far as policy issues, by not getting the funding for it, this can be seen as a loss,” Harden said. “He can maybe accept this loss if maybe someone convinces him that they’ll eventually get funding.”