By John Stran
During the 35-day partial government shutdown, Youngstown State University was spared from any major hardships involving lack of access to federal funding for students and staff.
Katrina Davidson, controller for YSU, said the university’s ability to draw down cash for federal financial aid for students was not impacted by the shutdown.
According to Elaine Ruse, director of the office of financial aid and scholarships, federal student aid YSU students were qualified to receive was disbursed without delay during the shutdown.
The financial aid process for students was done in advance of the shutdown, which is why YSU students received their funding on time.
“While this was the longest government shutdown in the history of the republic, effects on higher education were fairly minimal,” Greg Dillon, interim associate vice president for research, said.
“During a shutdown, no new money can be committed but existing budget dollars continue to be spent,” Dillon said. “There was a possibility that bill payment and reimbursement might have been slowed if it dragged on for longer.”
To Dillon, YSU helping their students is the top priority.
YSU students promptly received their financial aid, but there are other ways the shutdown may have affected students across the United States.
According to a story by Inside Higher Ed, colleges such as the College of Southern Maryland has students who were affected by the shutdown because many students and parents in the area are federal employees.
The shutdown didn’t affect these students’ financial aid, but it may have made it more difficult to pay for tuition, books and class fees.
Federal funding is a vital source of income for YSU, and Dillon said it’s fairly common for YSU to get over 50 percent of its research funding from the federal level, but he doesn’t see this percentage as an issue at the university because sources of funding for the campus are so diverse.
“I’m of the opinion that a healthy foundation of basic research is necessary to maintain a sustainable research enterprise,” he said. “I always like to see other sources, like private industry, making up a substantial proportion of our external funding.”
Hypothetically, if students’ financial aid were delayed, Davidson said she was unaware of any legal contract binding YSU to help students with funding for tuition.
The shutdown ended Jan. 25 but the government could close again in February.