Threat of another shutdown worries Chapman community

Another shutdown could affect future grant applications and award funding to Chapman staff and faculty, said Tom Piechota, Vice President for Research. Photo by Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash.

Three weeks after the longest government shutdown in American history, the students and staff at Chapman are anticipating another shutdown.

On Feb. 15, both chambers of Congress must agree on funding for Homeland Security and Trump’s proposed $5 billion border wall. President Donald Trump has threatened to shutdown the government again if Congress does not appropriate money for the wall.

Various universities have offered assistance to students struggling to pay monthly tuition fees due to the shutdown. Brown University responded by offering short-term loans for students unable to purchase food or school supplies while Rutgers University- Camden provided payment deadline extensions.

Chapman, however, has not explicitly offered financial accommodations to students affected by the shutdown.

“At this time, we have not had currently enrolled students or parents indicate they have been directly impacted by the government shutdown,” David Carnevale, Director of Undergraduate Financial Aid, wrote in an email to Prowl. “It is important to note that the Department of Education remained open during the shutdown.”

Students filing their FAFSAs and the disbursements of federal financial aid packages were not disturbed by the shutdown.

Federal grants, loans, and work-study were also unaffected. “As the situation continues to develop, the Financial Aid Office continues to work closely with senior administration to determine the impact of the shutdown as it directly relates to our students,” Carnevale said.

As for existing research grants, Dr. Tom Piechota, Vice President for Research at Chapman, said “that [Chapman] does not anticipate any direct impacts [from the shutdown].” However, another shutdown “could affect pending grant applications and award funding.”

Although institutions like the National Science Foundation have contingency plans for their own funding in the event of a government shutdown, “the NSF had given direction to continue work if funds have been obligated [to the university] and work does not require the support of federal employees or facilities,” Piechota said.

Over 800,000 federal employees were directly affected by the 35-day partial government shutdown, many of whom were expected to work without immediate pay, according to the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Employees who were not forced to work were furloughed, or temporarily laid off until the government reopened.

The last shutdown “came at a rough time,” said Joy Purpus, Chapman alumni and air traffic controller who now lives in San Diego. Purpus felt  “uncomfortable” without income, and forced to dip into savings for daily expenses.

She and her wife “didn’t have a plan in place, however we got lucky because we had just sold a home recently and had a bit of savings,” Purpus recounted. But the shutdown worried many of her colleagues, who did not have funds on hand to pay their bills, she said.

“I don’t feel confident in the Band-Aid the government put in place and we are expecting another shutdown to happen soon… It really bothers me that I am being used as a pawn for [the president’s] latest scheme,” Purpus said.

Update: Congressional leaders announced Monday night they had reached “an agreement in principle” to prevent a government shutdown, giving President Donald Trump  $1.375 billion of the $5.7 billion he had demanded to build a border wall. Tuesday, the president indicated he was “not happy” with the compromise, but declined to indicate if he would sign the bill or not to forestall another shutdown Friday, according to The New York Times.

Jennifer Sauceda and Brandon Winchester

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