How the government shutdown affects SRJC

Faith Gates and Jessica Beaudry

The United
States started a government shutdown Oct. 1 that furloughed 800,000 federal employees, creating a ripple effect felt through homes across over America.

The House of Representatives and Senate could not agree on a budget to fund the government, in part because of an ongoing debate defining Obamacare. When the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, Congress was still undecided,leaving funds unavailable for federal employees and government programs.

So how does the government shutdown impact SRJC?

The good news is, the Pell Grant program and the Direct Student Loan program will remain open and continue to distribute loans. However, there is a possibility depending on how long the shutdown lasts, that some employees who review student loan applications may be furloughed, potentially slowing down the process.

Some programs will be severely cut back; including The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant; TRIO Programs that provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds; Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs; Title III, which provides funds for students with low income, and Title V, the Hispanic-Serving Institutions programs.

Most U.S. Department of Labor programs face closure, with the exception of Job Corps and Unemployment Insurance programs.

SRJC political science teacher Jeanette Benfarhat said her biggest concern about the shutdown is all the poor people and the programs being affected like Women, Infants and Children [WIC], which helps pregnant woman and moms get healthy food for themselves and their children.

“I use WIC, a program that helps my daughter and me receive food,” said SRJC student Veronica Halbert.

Some students are unable to do their history homework with assignments that need the website because it is down.

Benfarhat was also concerned about students who have jobs could be affected by the shutdown.

SRJC political science teacher Monte Freidig isn’t concerned about the shutdown. “This is a partial shut down, impacting less than 20 percent of the federal government…depends upon how long things last,” Freidig said.

Patients could also be affected as the Department of Health and Human Services furloughed 52 percent of HHS employees and retained 48 percent. This means it will stop accepting new patients for clinical research and stop answering hotline calls about medical questions.

Students tying to get visas or passports might also be out of luck. The State Department says the agencies will stay open as long as funds last, but some activities will be interrupted.

Anyone hoping to visit Yosemite or Alcatraz here in California is going to have to make different plans as those are closed, along with more than 400 national parks and museums.

On a wider scale, the office of government ethics is closed and unable to function. Among many programs unable to serve those in need, Head Start programs will soon have to close their doors if the shutdown continues.

National state parks and museums will close during this period, along with critical programs such as the USDA, WIC, CDC and the EPA. Veterans are faced with the possibly of not receiving benefits if the shutdown continues for two weeks, while NASA has already furloughed almost all of its employees.

The longest and most recent government shutdown in U.S. history began in 1995, lasting a total of of 21 days, overlapping into 1996. Now, in 2013, the economy is in more precarious state. The longer the shutdown, the greater the number of people affected, and it will become increasingly difficult to recover.

Although many programs are currently out of service, there are those still functioning such as the U.S. military, law enforcement, Homeland Security, emergency disaster assistance and the U.S. postal service.

Back at SRJC, students don’t seem too worried. “I’m not that concerned about it,” said student Chloe Spicher. “They will figure it out eventually. They will have to do something.”