The Government Shutdown and the Affordable Health Care Act: Are Students Affected?

The MSU Spokesman

government shutdownFor the first time in 18 years, Congress caused a government shutdown that sought to destabilize the progress of funding the Affordable Care Act. Among others, university students will be impacted.

A total of 800,000 federal employees will not clock in to work due to the government’s inability to pay them; 400 national parks and museums will close; federal loans will not be available and the federal government will run out of money to pay its bills on October 17th, giving an increase to the $16.7 billion debt deficit. The only good news for many is that the IRS will suspend all audits.

For college students, it will serve as a challenge to pursue a higher education if the shutdown is prolonged any further. Most students will be forced to drop out of the semester or play the waiting game until Congress decides to propose a budget to support The Affordable Care Act. The Washington Post reports the shutdown will instantly affect existing college students because the U.S Department of Education will not have manpower to process federal grants and loans to over 14 million students at over 6,600 schools as 90 percent of the agency’s workforce will be told to stay home. The cutbacks will not stop students from receiving Pell Grants or federal loans but could delay the payments.

According to the Washington Post, Colorado Springs is the most impacted city in the country by the government shutdown, losing 18.8 percent of the federal workforce. Military bases across the country are furloughing their federal employees due to the shutdown. This impact is not only affecting federal employees but their families as well, especially those who attend a college or university.

Some students are not affected by the shutdown, but are weary of how far it will go. “The only thing that is suspended is WIC (Women infants and Children), national parks and museums like the Smithsonian,” says junior Allante Adams. “Currently there are no long term effects with college students but that is not to say that the government shutdown won’t affect us in the near future.”

Others feel the talk on health care will bring positive change. “I feel we are going to benefit from it as a middle class student because it benefits health care, [making it] more accessible and less costly,” says senior Latoya Young.