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Faculty Senate

CWU Preparation, Federal Plan Reduce Government Shutdown Effects on Students

Rapid processing of federal financial aid and federal contingency plans will protect students at Central Washington University from the most extreme effects of the shutdown of the federal government. The failure of Congress to approve a continuing budget resolution by midnight last night will disrupt the operation of federal programs, including agencies and programs that fund higher education research and many student assistance programs.

"In preparation for the imminent shutdown, CWU requested reimbursement for all federal awards that had incurred costs. However, we can only be reimbursed for funds we've spent," explained Connie Williams, associate vice president for Business and Financial Affairs. "We've received payment for about 83 percent of what has and will be spent in the next few weeks. We'll cover the remaining 17 percent until Congress agrees on a budget."

Last week CWU received a memo from US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) outlining the contingency plan for the US Department of Education (DOE) in the event of a government shutdown. The memo said work required to process Pell Grants and subsidized and unsubsidized student loans will continue as normal. Federal employees necessary to support those functions are among the agency's top priorities.

Federal reimbursements to CWU received so far total about $13.7 million in federal loans and $70,000 for the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), a federal assistance grant reserved for college students with the greatest financial need. As of close of business yesterday, the last day of the federal fiscal year, Williams said about $5 million in loan packages had been offered to, but not officially accepted by, students. If the aid is accepted within the next week, CWU may have to cover those payments until Congress approves a budget.

Of the total Pell grant funding of $5.5 million, CWU has allocated and received federal payment for about $4 million. Williams said CWU also will hold Pell recipients harmless from the effects of the government shutdown.

"The bottom line is that students, who were awarded and have accepted federal financial grants and loans by September 30, should not be affected by the federal government shut down," said Williams. 

CWU federal research and non-research funding also may be affected, because reimbursement requests for other grants and contracts are typically processed after September 30, the last day of the federal fiscal year. Funding processing may be suspended until a continuing resolution is approved. The university will be able to submit requests for new awards, but they will not be processed until a new continuing resolution is adopted.

CWU already has received federal funding for the 2013-2014 school year for the McNair Scholars program, the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), Higher Education Program (HEP), Student Support Services (SSS), and for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant, which prepares more than 2,000 middle school students in central Washington for success in college.

However, CWU’s Army ROTC program received a direct hit. Government Services employees had to be furloughed, which will delay books, tuition, room and board and monthly stipends for cadets, since appropriate paperwork cannot be processed. The program is working with the university to avoid any adverse affects on students.

At this time there is no information on any impact to veteran’s programs through CWU’s Veterans Center.

Under the contingency plan of the DOE, 90 percent of employees would be immediately furloughed. During the first week of a shutdown the agency would maintain only functions related to the discharge of the duties of presidentially-appointed, senate-confirmed individuals; the protection of life and property; and, as appropriate, the obligation, payment, and support of student financial aid as well as other pre-authorized payments and obligations.

A shutdown lasting longer than a week, could affect the processing of student loans/grants and payments. Programs using mandatory or multi-year funding from a prior year would continue to operate through a government shutdown, though likely at a slower rate with far fewer employees. The text of the full OMB Contingency Plan may be accessed at: www.whitehouse.gov/omb/contingency-plans.


Media Contact: Linda Schactler, Executive Director of Public Affairs, 509-963-1384

October 1, 2013