Congress failed to reach an agreement last week on a budget to fund the government for the next year, which caused a government shutdown. This means all non-essential programs, such as the panda cam, will be closed, and workers will remain on furlough until an agreement is reached.
According to Eric Pederson, associate vice chancellor for Enrollment Services, UAA is holding a wait-and-see position on this right now. When sequestration began, the same thing happened, but the decision was quickly reversed.
Affected students should stay in contact with the Military Programs Office on JBER, Military and Veteran’s Student Services in the Student Union Building or Enrollment Services in the University Center for information.
The shutdown will affect certain categories of UAA students, particularly students who are relying on the tuition assistance program for active duty soldiers. This program is currently suspended for any new claims, and payments for courses that start after Oct. 1 will not be paid.
Students who rely on this program have been advised not to begin courses if they fall into this category. Active duty soldiers who are in late-starting classes have been urged to drop the courses and have until the end of the first week of class to do so.
International students could also be affected by the government shutdown and can expect a delay in all processing for every type of action UAA a student might need. One of the biggest concerns for international students is the closure of the Social Security Office. This means international students wanting to work on campus will not be able to get a social security card, which is required for on-campus employment.
International students intending to begin classes in January might also be delayed, because consular services overseas will be limited, reducing their abilities to get visa appointments. International students interested in Optional Practical Training should contact David Racki in Enrollment Services to discuss what the shutdown might mean for them. International students are encouraged to apply for this program early, because slower processing of applications is expected.
Students who are relying on federal student aid programs such as the Pell Grant and Direct Student loans are not impacted at this time. The Department of Education is saying it will keep the offices staffed so that service to schools and students continues. Students should not worry if they are waiting for last-minute aid for fall to be disbursed, nor should they worry about spring semester aid.
“Alaska state aid programs are not impacted in any way that we know of,” states Pederson.
Pederson states, “We don’t know how many students and their families might be experiencing a furlough or reduced work hours because they work for the federal government, or on a contract with the federal government. Any students who find themselves in that situation who begins to worry or have trouble paying their tuition bill should come forward and let someone know, their advisor, enrollment services, financial aid, that way we can look into helping the students. We don’t have information on where they work in a database and we want to do what we can to help them out.”
Pederson also states there could be students, staff and faculty working on projects funded by federal grants, and their funding could be significantly impacted due to the shutdown.
Students should seek help as soon as needed. The next payment deadline and late fee for students is Nov. 1. Any student who planned to have his or her bill paid by then and is experiencing trouble because of the shutdown should contact Enrollment Services this week or next.
Pederson says students can call Enrollment Services One Stop at 907-786-1480, but it might be best to visit the offices at the University Center, because students might need help from more than one office.