Some worry how government shutdown will affect college students financial aid

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - The government shutdown is dragging on into day 21.

With no legislative compromise in sight, many lawmakers and federal employees are beyond frustrated. Now some worry whether the shutdown will start affecting college students' financial aid.

KSFY News sat down with financial aid officials at the University of Sioux Falls to see if students are being impacted.

Since the government shutdown went in to effect over college students' winter break KSFY wanted to see if their financial aid packages are being affected by what's happening in Washington.

"So the government shutdown has not had a major impact on students," Associate Director of Financial Aid, Carissa Koerner said.

For now, students are still able to apply for financial aid and the shutdown is not affecting any disbursements of federal aid.

"The one thing we've maybe seen a minor impact with is students occasionally need to provide extra documentation on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid for verification of tax information and the IRS website has not been processing those requests," Koerner said.

The Department of Education has stepped in to provide guidance to financial counselors. This includes alternatives financial aid departments can accept in the meantime.

For example, a student can submit a different form of proof.

"His financial aid counselor in that office will probably request him to turn in a signed copy of his 1040 from the year that he needs that and they can use that form now instead to complete his verification," Koerner said.

President Donald Trump recently threatened to keep the government shutdown for 'months or even years.'

"Absolutely I said that I don't think it will," President of the United States, Donald Trump said.

"I can't imagine the shutdown lasting that long," Koerner said.

"I would say up to about a couple weeks ago there might have been concerns that students weren't going to be able to submit their FAFSA with the government shutdown," Vice President for Enrollment Management, Aimee Vander Feen said.

USF hasn't heard yet from any families worried their student wouldn't receive their aid.

"It hasn't been a concern for our institution," Vander Feen said.

If students weren't able to submit different verification forms this would be a bigger problem than it is.

"It would start becoming a bigger story and maybe a different scenario for students because it would start getting a little more back log for financial aid departments because it would take longer to get the documentation they would need," Vander Feen said.

If this shutdown were to continue students' FAFSA applications would still be accepted for the 2019-2020 school year.

If students are still having difficulties verifying their tax information Koerner says there are other ways to work around it.