The University is offering tuition deadline extensions to students whose parents are federal workers affected by the partial federal government shutdown, according to a Jan. 18 press release. Students awaiting tuition assistance directly from a federal agency will also receive a penalty-free extension on tuition payments. The University is handling requests on a case-by-case basis.
The shutdown — which began Dec. 22 and temporarily ended Jan. 25 — left some families across the nation without a constant source of income, prompting numerous universities to offer extensions on tuition payments to affected students, the Associated Press reported.
“We wanted to make sure that we were able to assist those families that may run into issues, since the government shutdown was running for an extensive amount of time,” said Director of Financial Services Wynette Zuppardi.
As of last week, about 40 students who receive federal tuition assistance were still waiting on funds, Zuppardi said. “The funds that are expected for those students are posted on their student account as ‘memo credits,’ or anticipated money that we will be getting from a third party,” she added. “Those memos stay on until February 15 — if we haven’t received those funds by (that date), we will extend them so that those accounts will not accrue any sort of late fee.”
The Bursar’s Office is not aware of which students are children of federal workers, so students in need of an extension on their tuition payments must request one, Zuppardi said. To date, the Bursar’s Office has received three inquiries into tuition deadline extensions, she added.
Judy Kim ’22 said her father is a federal worker who had to work without pay during the shutdown. Kim has been paying for educational expenses with her own money, but she noted that since the government has reopened, the back pay her father will eventually receive should cover her expenses.
Peter Huson ’21 said both of his parents are federal workers who went without pay during the shutdown. “Due to the government reopening recently, they’ve just received all of their back pay,” he added. Neither Kim nor Huson was aware of the tuition deadline extensions made available to students affected by the shutdown. Had Kim known about them, she said she would have considered requesting an extension.
“Students who would qualify (for an extension) would have had to reach out to the Bursar Office, which isn’t very convenient,” Huson said. “That puts the burden on the student.”
Because the shutdown occurred during the University’s winter break, Huson said he did not have trouble covering educational expenses. “The coincidental timing of the shutdown meant that for many students, the impact wasn’t felt at school but rather felt at home,” Huson said.
Students unable to cover expenses can also request emergency financial assistance from the University of up to $500 throughout the year, according to the press release. Kim said that she was looking into applying for emergency funds before buying books for the spring semester, but she did not end up doing so after the government reopened.
There has not been any notable increase in the number of students requesting emergency funds as a result of the shutdown, aside from the normal peak seen at the beginning of every semester, Zuppardi said.
In light of the recent temporary end of the shutdown, the University will continue to work with affected families and offer necessary accommodations, “especially since some families won’t get paid for another couple of weeks as they return to work and wait for the payroll process,” Zuppardi said.
At present, the tuition deadline extensions have not placed a significant strain on University funds. “Looking at where we currently stand, I would say that it’s not going to be a significant impact. We will be waiving some late fees on a case-by-case basis,” Zuppardi said. “If the government shutdown was to continue, it could be more costly to the University.”
In the case of another government shutdown, Zuppardi expects that the University would continue offering tuition deadline extensions. “In the short term, we would continue to do what we’re doing,” Zuppardi said. “However, the team would definitely have to regroup and consider the impact as we move forward.”