If the government does not increase the debt ceiling on Thursday, there is a possibility that federal funding for financial aide could be cut off.
The government shutdown is leaving students confused about which campus offices are operating and which are closed.
Food science freshman Molly Canfield should be working as a desk assistant in Fremont Hall. However, she cannot legally work, she said. Other students are having the same problem.
“We only have, right now, I think three people on staff and they’re working hard and they have long shifts now,” Canfield said. “So it’s affecting everyone.”
Canfield received $2,100 through the Federal Work-Study program. As a desk assistant, she makes $8 an hour. This means she will have to work an average of 14 hours a week for one and a half quarters to pay for her yearly tuition.
What’s stopping her from working? The processing of a form, and it makes her ineligible to work.
“It concerns me, because right now I know my schedule and I know I can work the 14-hour weeks with how I arranged it with my desk manager,” Canfield said. “So for the future I’m just nervous about how I can fulfill the work-study while keeping up with studies.
“So until that gets done, I can’t effectively pay for school,” she said.
While it’s true students are not allowed to work under the work-study program until they fulfill their eligibility requirements, Director of Financial Aid Lois Kelly said it has nothing to do with the government shutdown.
The problem is a matter of large volumes of paperwork, she said. Hundreds of students turned in paperwork right before school started, and they only have a few staff members.
The timing of processing paperwork in Kelly’s office is about four weeks, which happens every year, she said.
“We’re trying to process it as quickly as possible,” Kelly said.
The servicing entities that provide resources, process applications, process payments and process loan surfacing for Cal Poly are all third-party contractors and are not direct federal employees, Kelly said.
“Yes we can still provide information regarding eligibility, yes we can still make awards, yes we can still collect additional documentation,” Kelly said.
If the government does not increase the debt ceiling on Thursday, however, there is a possibility that federal funding could be cut off. This does not affect state or private dollars, just federal dollars.
“We are in the process of discussing those issues, but the possibly exists we would have to stop making payments to students until the government restores funding,” Kelly said.
If the federal government isn’t going to provide the funds to Cal Poly, Kelly does not know whether additional funds would be made available. That is still in discussion, she said.
Unlike the financial aid office, ROTC students are directly affected by the shutdown.
Assistant professor of military science Capt. Jeremy Medaris said the program is experiencing limitations with training because they can’t use the facilities at Camp San Luis Obispo.
They can use the facilities on campus, however. There is also enough equipment in the supply room on campus for training, Medaris said.
ROTC students who receive stipends will not be paid until the government reopens, military science department head Lt. Col. Joel Newsom said.
Depending what year the cadet is in the program, they receive about $350 to $500 a month. The payday passed Tuesday, and cadets did not receive their normal stipends.
The program is also unable to enter into any new contracts with cadets at this time, Newsom said. Cadets already in the program can still participate, however, he said.
The program also cannot issue any scholarships. If students already have scholarships, they should be fine, Newsom said. There were a couple scholarships the program was getting ready to offer, he added, but have had to “hold-off.”