Unable to reach an agreement over the federal budget, much of the U.S. government has halted operations.  What does this mean for higher ed access programs?  Many are primarily funded by the federal government. Our colleagues at the National College Access Network, the American Association of Community Colleges and Inside Higher Ed investigate.

From the National College Access Network

The good news: Pell Grants and student loans will continue to be disbursed. If you or your students need assistance with a Federal Student Aid question, please consult this list to see which service centers are still available. Almost ALL call centers will still be open, (e.g. 1-800-4-FEDAID)

The bad news: Aid from campus-based aid programs, such as SEOG and Work Study, will not be distributed during the shutdown.

From the American Association of Community Colleges

Most significantly, the Pell Grant program, since it is funded with mandatory and multiyear appropriations, will continue operations in the case of a shutdown. So, too, would most operations of the Direct Student Loan program. Another important excepted activity that will proceed as normal is the obligation of Perkins Career and Technical Education to provide and disperse funds to states.

Activities related to most other ED programs, including SEOG, TRIO, GEARUP, Title III and Title V would be severely curtailed. As many of these are grant programs, this may not affect disbursement of funds, nor would it affect past grants, but ED staff would not be available during a shutdown to provide technical assistance or other services related to these programs.

From Inside Higher Ed

Students would continue to have access to Pell Grants and federal loans, and most customer service centers would remain open. Education Department websites would remain available, as would student loan servicer sites.  (The department’s Federal Student Aid office also provided Friday more detailed technical guidance for financial aid professionals on the impact of a government shutdown.)

A host of other, smaller financial aid programs that require Education Department personnel to operate would be harder-hit by a shutdown. The department plans to furlough employees who support campus-based aid programs such as Federal Work-Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants.

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