University to assist students affected by shutdown

Elika Roohi/Sun Star Reporter
Oct. 15, 2013

The memorandum from Chancellor Rogers regarding what do about the government shutdown at UAF, shared on the university's Facebook page.

The memorandum from Chancellor Rogers regarding what do about the government shutdown at UAF, shared on the university’s Facebook page.

Chancellor Rogers released a memorandum on Oct. 2 instructing organizations and offices at the university to go out of their way to make sure the government shutdown would not adversely affect UAF students.

While the debate about furloughed employees goes on, students are not being talked about. In reality, they may be a part of the population that’s hardest hit.

Fifty-two percent of students who live by themselves are below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Those students often depend on financial aid, some of it federally funded.

The shutdown has the potential to interfere with that aid. Military students or others who are expecting federal assistance may have problems while the shutdown goes on.

According to the memorandum, shared on the university’s Facebook page, Rogers instructed offices at UAF not to drop students from classes for late fees–a policy currently in effect, discontinue meal plans or carry out any other restrictive action that resulted from the government shutdown.

This message is one being spread throughout higher education institutions. Many universities across the country are adopting “buffer policies” to make the shutdown easier on students depending on federal aid.

For the time being, things at UAF seem alright.

“There hasn’t been too much of an impact on students here,” said Julie Parshall, the Associate Director of the Financial Office.

If a government shutdown can ever be considered fortunate, this one at least came at good time. “If it was a month ago, it would have been a real mess,” Parshall said.

Last month, the office was processing FAFSA applications and distributing scholarships, a process that would have been hindered by the shutdown.

There have been delays in processing Veteran’s Affairs benefits, according to Parshall. “It’s not that things are shut down entirely, they’re just taking longer than they usually do.”

The memorandum was addressed to the Financial Aid Office, Residence Life, CRCD and Rural Student Services, CTC Student Services, the Office of the Bursar and the Office of International Programs and Initiatives.

“In the event our student services professions are confronted with a military student, or any student who claims to be, or clearly is, affected by the government shutdown, please take action to ensure the student is not adversely affected,” Rogers said in the memorandum.

With Congress still at an impasse, and the nation’s debt limit set to expire on Oct. 17, no one knows what will happen next.

“We’re just kind of taking it day by day,” Parshall said.

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