The federal government shutdown has reached its third week and lawmakers have given no indication an end is in sight. As YNN’s Matt Hunter reports, that uncertainty has left students and parents applying for financial aid uneasy.
QUEENSBURY, N.Y. – Cheyenne Fraim still has eight months until high school graduation, but she's already leaning toward attending SUNY Adirondack next year for its culinary arts program.
"I loved it,” Fraim said. “It's probably one of my top choices."
"I think it's beautiful here,” said Kim Fraim, Cheyenne’s mother. “They offer what she needs, so that's a big plus."
Along with 50 other families, the Waterford High School senior and her mother attended the college's open house Monday. While next year is a way off, they're not the only family concerned about the impact the federal government shutdown might have on their financial aid.
"We have concerns because, obviously, you need help,” Kim said. “College is very expensive and you want to give your kid the best education they can [get]."
"It was a little scary before we received the notifications," said Maureen Reilly, SUNY Adirondack’s director of financial aid.
While the school's staff was initially concerned as well, Reilly says current students have nothing to fear.
"Our students are able to receive their federal Pell Grants and their federal student loans with no stoppage," Reilly said Monday.
Schools began dispersing federal Pell Grants and student loans for the current year two weeks into the fall semester. Aid for the spring has already been locked in as well. However, if the shutdown stretches into next year, some students could feel its effects.
"It'd be students applying for aid in 2014-15," Reilly said.
According to Reilly, funding amounts for Pell Grants will not be impacted but Congress does need to pass an authorization bill before the money be sent out.
Despite the possible delay, she says Department of Education officials have assured colleges the financial aid application website will be up and running at the start of the year no matter what.
"They will go live on January 1st, even with a worst case scenario," Reilly said.
"That is reassuring,” Fraim said. “The kids right now are going to be our future so shutting them out is really, I don't think it's an option."