The University of Rhode Island has reassured that despite the government shutdown over winter break, students will still receive their financial aid.
Carnell Jones, the director of Enrollment Services, said that URI has been understanding for incoming students for the spring 2019 semester that have had processing issues.
The main issue concerned IRS transcripts which verified the information that students filled in on their application for Federal Student Aid. The issue with this form, was that the IRS was unable to verify information during the government shutdown period.
The students that were affected by this were new students enrolling for January. Jones said that the impact was felt on a “minimal scale” at URI. Jones said that these processing issues with the IRS won’t affect the amount in the award itself, but will delay the receival of financial aid awards by students.
According to Jones, Enrollment Services received less than 100 calls concerning the government shutdown and its effect on financial aid awards, and 10 calls with issues directly related to the shutdown.
Taylor Cronin, a junior at URI concerned about the status of her loans, spoke about how the shutdown has affected her. Cronin has still not received her loans that are needed to pay rent for the month of February.
“My loans are really delayed,” Cronin said. “I haven’t been able to pay my rent for the semester because the loans are delayed. I’ve contacted Enrollment Services, and because everything is delayed, they can’t really do anything.”
Jones explained that student’s loans should not have been affected by the shutdown. This is only if they filled out their FAFSA on time, because loans are given out 10 days before the semester begins and were already calculated out before the shutdown occurred. There were the 10 cases that Jones referred to where students enrolling for the spring semester had issues, but other students should not have experienced difficulty with their loans. This issue can be handled on a case-by-case basis with Enrollment Services.
“We helped everyone,” said Jones. “We worked closely with our students directly to help them anyway we could.”
Cronin did express that the realtors that supply housing to students have been understanding with her and others concerning their struggles with loans during this period.
The money for grants and loans has already been collected by the University to give out to students for the semester. This means that although there was a shutdown going on, most students should have seen that money reflected in their tuition bills for the semester.
“Money was still going out of the door while we were in a shutdown, because that money was already captured,” Jones said.
Jones explained that the University lifted registration holds in place for those students struggling with government serviced financial aid awards during the shutdown.
“So in other words, we didn’t stop anybody from doing anything based upon the shutdown,” Jones said. “So we actually went into, ‘What can we do for you?’”
As for the work study program, all students were paid during the shutdown as the University pays out of pocket for their work study employees and the federal government gives gross reimbursements back to the university at the end of the academic year. Students should not have had issues receiving pay through the University’s work study program.
Jones expressed that if this shutdown had happened the end of the Rhode Island fiscal year, the University would not have been able to handle it as effectively.