EWU largely unaffected by government shutdown

EWU largely unaffected by government shutdown

By Nicolas Zerbe, Contributor

This article ran in the Jan. 23 issue of The Easterner. On Jan. 25, Congress and President Donald Trump agreed to reopen the government until at least Feb. 15 while the president continues his fight for border wall funding.

The shutdown of the U.S. government is reaching its fifth week, but operations at EWU remain largely unaffected.

A $5.7 billion border wall dispute has President Trump and Congress playing tug-of-war with the appropriations bill. The resulting shutdown, which began Saturday, Dec. 22, leaves hundreds of thousands of federal workers without jobs or pay, but financial aid and grants at EWU are seeing little to no impact.

According to the White House website, President Trump is requesting “$5.7 billion to fund a steel barrier system, including embedded investments in technology and roads, on our southern border in the priority areas cited by Border Patrol.”

For EWU students worried about their financial aid status during the shutdown, it appears to have had almost no effect.

One of the only ways in which students may have seen any impact at all is in the attempted retrieval of tax information through the IRS, though the issue has since been resolved, according to Associate Director for Financial Aid and Scholarships, Kandi Teeters.

“We received notification from the Department of Education that they’ve provided alternative options, so there was a temporary issue but that’s been relieved,” said Teeters.

Because of the way in which financial aid is distributed at EWU, student funding was also unaffected, according to Teeters.

“It didn’t delay any funding,” said Teeters. “The institutions release aid and then get reimbursement from the government — so it’s not anything that delayed funding to the students.”

The Office of Grant and Research Development, which helps the EWU community secure external funding was also minimally impacted.

“A lot of our grant awards had already been awarded,” said Executive Director of Academic Grants and Contracts, Ruth Galm. “The only way we’ve been minimally affected is by new opportunities that should have come out already but haven’t come out yet because of certain agencies being shut down.”

The Grants Office received around $14 million in grant funding, but not all of which is from the federal government, according to Galm.

The office is continuing to apply for federal grants throughout the shutdown, and according to Galm, the requests are still being received.

“We’re kind of just in a wait and see mode,” said Galm. “Certain things that should have been announced by now haven’t been and we’re just checking every day to see when grant opportunities are going to be announced.”