After 35 days of a partial government shutdown, President Donald Trump agreed to reopen the government for three weeks while negotiations over a border wall continue. University of Toledo students and officials felt the impact of the shutdown and, pending a “no-deal” outcome on Feb. 15, may have to deal with yet another lapse in funding.
As each day of the shutdown passed, problems for students and faculty alike grew and the amount of work government employees would return to multiplied.
UT finance student Hannah Sabecki was affected by the shutdown immediately. She is currently in the process of transferring schools from UT to the University of New Orleans, and in order to complete the process, she needs to get a Verification of Nonfiling letter of a parent from the IRS to give to both institutions.
Sabecki submitted the request for it a week before the shutdown began in December and still has not received it. Even with the government reopened for a brief time, she is not sure when she will receive it in the mail, or when she will be able to start school at UNO.
“The government shutdown has made my situation very stressful,” Sabecki said. “I’m getting very concerned about my education and I have no clue when I am going to be able to complete the process.”
Not many other widespread issues were reported by students during the past month, but some other similar information retrieval issues did occur, Todd Matthews, director of Rocket Solution Central said.
Some students whose families were selected for verification by the Department of Education had trouble getting tax transcripts from the IRS to verify that their FAFSAs were correctly filled out during the shutdown, Matthews said.
Another issue, according to Matthews: receiving confirmations from the Selective Service Administration for any male students applying for financial aid during the shutdown. The agency was closed.
Aside from a few other hiccups, the financial aid process ran smoothly throughout the shutdown. However, there were definite concerns about more serious issues that would arise the longer a shutdown continued.
In terms of academic research, immediate repercussions were small.
The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs created a webpage in response to the possible issues created by the shutdown, accessible at http://www.utoledo.edu/research/rsp/partial-govt-shutdown-dec-18.html.
Anne Izzi, director of Sponsored Programs at the office said there were few very immediate problems happening in research at the university in regard to the shutdown, but the situation could worsen the longer it went on.
Usually when research grants are awarded, money allotments are split into time periods, and once it begins, an individual has a monetary amount to spend until the end of it.
Researchers already working were able to continue with their work because they already received the grant money for this period. However, if the shutdown continued through the end of any periods, additional grant money would not be given until the reopening of the government, Izzi explained.
Furthermore, new grant proposals are not reviewed or approved during a government shutdown.
Also, if the research faculty or students are working to interact with any government agencies that shut their doors during a shutdown, research may be halted. This was a problem with research working with NASA during this shutdown, Izzi said.
All operations funded through the government are once again up and running, allowing the new semester to run smoothly. However, with a short three week promise of a fully-functioning government, things are still up in the air.
If progress is not made in the next three weeks and the shutdown resumes mid-February, staff and students at the university could face even more hurdles.