Butler County Community College and its students are not yet dealing with the effects of the partial shutdown of the federal government, but that could change if the shutdown continues for much longer.
In an interview Thursday, BC3 President Dr. Nick Neupauer said students could be affected if the shutdown continues through its May graduation.
“We could run into a problem if this would extend beyond graduation or final exams,” Neupauer said.
The problem surrounds the U.S. Department of Education, which is currently affected by the shutdown and not processing student financial aid applications. BC3 receives about $8 million in PELL grants from the federal government to help students pay for education. About 80 percent of the students who attend BC3 receive some kind of aid.
According to Neupauer, other issues related to the shutdown could end up affecting BC3 as well, such as GI benefits for well over 200 BC3 students who are veterans.
Slippery Rock University’s Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships is telling students to continue to submit their financial aid applications despite the shutdown.
SRU officials say students can still complete their FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) but applications that need to be checked with certain government agencies might be held up. Still, they are encouraging students to submit, so when the government does reopen the applications will be processed.
Officials are concerned a prolonged government shutdown will create a backlog of applications that need to be processed, but payment of student aid will be applied as long as the government shutdown doesn’t extend all the way until the fall 2019 semester.