The Government Shutdown: Students Should Care

Two weeks removed from President Barack Obama signing the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014, reopening the government for the time being, the country is still left with a sour taste in its mouth looking for answers and somewhere to place the blame.

While the government shutdown had a large effect throughout country and ate up the national spotlight, furloughing close to 800,000 government workers, shutting down National Parks and having an effect on nearly every single government agency throughout the United States, college students across the country seemed to have a very minimal interest unless it directly related to them. Many, even those living in Washington D.C. itself, didn’t even know the government had reopened.

“I tried to go to the Vanderbilt Mansion one weekend and it said it was closed due to the government shutdown,” said Marist College senior Owen Cobb. “I also remember everyone was freaking out about the Panda Cam being shutdown as well.”

Screen shot 2013-10-28 at 4.18.13 PMAh yes, the Panda Cam, one of the more popular stars of the government shutdown and was met with much anger when announced of it’s shutdown, only to be followed by jubilation with its return after the National Zoo posted a tweet proclaiming its return to online viewing.

Screen shot 2013-10-28 at 3.12.57 PM

So why should college students have cared and should continue about the government shutdown unless they were planning to take a trip to a National Park or watch Mei Xiang and Tian Tian roll around and eat some bamboo?

1. It’s going to happen again: With President Obama signing the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014 just after midnight on Oct. 17, it merely reopened the government through Jan. 15 and extending the debt limit to Feb.7. So we are going to be going through this whole ordeal all over again in a few mere months.

2. Effect on research grants: While for the most part most higher education grants were largely unaffected, due to the shortness of the government shutdown, these continuing type of governing could have a large effect on the research money being given to different college’s and universities. Aspen Institute College Excellence Program Executive Director Josh Wyner explains this problem in an interview with the Huffington Post in the video below.

3. Academic resources shutdown: During the government shutdown many of the popular academic resource sites used by college students were shutdown: U.S. Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Education Resources Info Center, Library of Congress and the National Archives. All of these and countless others were offline during the government shutdown, leaving students and professors in the dark when researching a certain topic.

4. Getting a passport: A popular activity for undergraduate students during their college careers is to study abroad in another country. While the State Department still issued passports throughout the government shutdown this year, a number of passport and visa offices are located within federal buildings, which were closed as a result. This along with the delay in receiving instant passports caused a delay for those applying for one.

5. Students receiving Pell Grants: Again, while the furlough of most of the Department of Education employees did not have a large effect on college students receiving Pell Grants, students having questions or concerns specific to their individual loans had a difficult time getting in contact with someone who could help. This combined with another foreseeable government shutdown in the future could create further problems.

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