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US Government Shutdown – How Will It Affect Education, College & Pell Grants?

Updated: October 1, 2013

Update: Are you being affected by the US government shutdown? Let us know in the comments at the end of this article.

Unless you’ve been asleep under a rock for the past few weeks, and especially for the past couple of days, you will be aware that the US government is on the brink of the first shut down in 17 years. Whatever your political views and beliefs are, there is no doubt that one of your first thoughts about this issue is “How will it affect me and my family?”.

If you are a mother who is in the process of applying for a Pell Grant for your education, or if you are currently attending college, then you will want to know exactly how the federal shutdown may impact you. Likewise, if you have children in a public school, you may be concerned about what will happen to them.

If the government does proceed to shut down within the next few days, a large number of services and jobs will be impacted, such as those in the energy, health, transportation and defense sectors. But what about education?

It appears that the department of education will face quite a severe hit to staffing levels, however $22 billion dollars will still be distributed to public schools at this time.

2013 Obama Federal Government Shutdown and the Pell Grant
It is important to know how this shutdown will affect people who are in the process of, or considering, applying for a Pell Grant at this time.

The U.S. Department of Education says that college students who are currently receiving federal student loans and Pell Grants will not be affected by the shutdown at this stage. However there is a flow on affect that can have an impact on you: the staff involved in the Pell Grant and other educational funding programs will be cut right back (over 4000 works could be sent home), with only very few essential staff remaining.

What will this mean for you?

If you need to contact the departments about your grants or loans, you will likely experience difficulties with being able to speak to someone or to get any answers. This is because under 140 employees only will remain to work on Pell Grants and the Direct Loan program departments, meaning many services will simply be unable to continue running.

Public Schools and Colleges
If you have children in public schools, the Education Department warns that if the shutdown lasts for more than one week, grant funding to schools with low income populations could be affected. Although these payments are already funded for one week, if the shutdown continues after this time, their existence could be in question; potentially affecting millions of school students. This also applies to some colleges and universities.

Social Security
People who receive social security checks will still receive their regular payments during a federal government shutdown, as will those who receive most types of Veterans benefits. However services will be cut in this department too, and you may not be able to undertake actions like having a benefit card replaced or having disability cases scheduled during this time.

There is no need to panic or be overly concerned at this time. For the majority of people, there will be no heavy impact upon education and grant payments during the federal government shutdown; you should simply be aware that accessing support services may be difficult or impossible until the government is functioning at full capacity once again.

  1. Whitney Burton
    June 25th, 2016 at 12:38 | #1

    I am going back to school and so far only am approved for a loan I have 3 kids and work at McDonald’s I should be able to get some kind of grant right?

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