Students have little to fear in latest government shutdown, for now
The government shut down concluded on Monday Jan. 22 after President Donald trump signed a bill keeping the government open through Feb. 2.
The United States government was shut down at midnight yesterday, halting federal programs and barring federal employees from working.
According to the Director of the School of Government & Public Policy Brinton Milward, a short term shutdown should not cause concern, though a long term shutdown could have critical consequences.
“[There is] very little effect unless this thing goes on,” Milward said. “If it goes on for a month or two the consequences could be dire because people aren’t paid, people can’t pay their mortgage, their rent, their tuition.”
Students might be affected in multiple areas, including financial aid, research funding and academic resources.
Unaffected: Financial Aid
Financial aid for university tuition and research is on hold during this shutdown, but students should not see a change in their funding since the semester has already started.
According to the University of Arizona scholarships and financial aid website, disbursements for the spring 2018 semester began Jan. 6, and the tuition payment deadline was Jan. 10. For all of the aid that already went into effect, students will see no change in their payment requirements.
May be affected: Grants and Research Funding
Grants and research funding might be affected depending on how often money is given.
“Most grants would be transferred quarterly,” Milward said, meaning money would come in every three months. “My guess is if we get through this in the next month, we should be OK on campus.”
May be affected: National Parks
Students who want to visit the Grand Canyon this weekend are able to enter the national park but some parts of the park, such as the gift shop, could shut down.
Governor Doug Ducey made a statement on Friday that the Grand Canyon park “will not close on our watch, period.” However, in order to do this, tax money from Arizonans will go toward keeping the park open.
“The state is pitching in some money to keep the Grand Canyon open,” Councilman Steve Kozachik said. “The taxpayers are having to backfill for the failure of the federal government to do their job, which is to create a budget.”
Funding national parks is a federal responsibility, but state taxpayers are footing the bill.
Local parks, like Saguaro National Park and Pima Canyon were unable to remain open and will not operate during the shutdown. According to a notice posted at Saguaro East — Rincon Mountain District, visitor services, educational programs, trash collection, maintenance and permit issuing services have all stopped.
However, access is not prohibited to the parks. Anyone can enter the park, but the National Park Service advised park visitors "to use extreme caution is choosing to enter NPS property, as NPS personnel will not be available to provide guidance, assistance, maintenance, or emergency response.”
May be affected: Study Abroad and Passports
During the government shutdown in 2013, passport offices experienced delays in distributing general passports and particularly could not grant last-minute passports.
What is shut down will be determined by the Trump administration, so closures are possible.
Once the government starts up again, “the state has to come back and catch up,” Milward said. “Things like the State Department with passports have big backlogs and have to pay overtime to get things back on track … I haven’t heard that the State Department was going to shut down passport operations, but it probably would go slower.”
Will be affected: Academic Resources
Students who need up-to-date data for research will be affected when government updates of new information are halted.
“The government keeps huge numbers of databases, and they’re constantly updating them,” Milward said. “So economists, historians, all kinds of people who do research can rely on government statistics. If they got behind on that or had to shut that down for a while, that might be a real problem.”
What will the final budget bring?
Once a budget is agreed on, government will function again. However, changes to many different programs might be made.
“Just because they sign a budget doesn’t mean everything is status quo,” Kozachik said. “Everything has the potential to be affected; what will really be affected is what are we going to see in the final budget.”
Students should not worry unless the government stays shut down for more than a month.
According to UA Vice President of Communications Chris Sigurdson, “We’re aware and we planned ahead, we’re good for the short term.”
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