SLU Steps Up as Government Shuts Down

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SLU Steps Up as Government Shuts Down

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At the end of December, the longest government shutdown in American history began due to disagreements between Congress and the White House over border security. The shutdown lasted over a month and during that time federal workers were unable to receive their salaries. Federal workers were either unable to work at all or were forced to work without pay, as in the case of many TSA agents. This affected families all over the country, including those here in St. Louis.


Without salaries coming in, many students at SLU were affected financially. Some students found themselves unable to pay their tuition or pay off loans. When the financial services office heard from a few students about the situation, they knew they had to help by implementing its “disaster emergency plan.”


Financial services offered a few types of assistance to affected students. They extended deadlines and worked with students to find a payment schedule that would work for them. The office offered loans to students for essential living items and made it possible for students to charge their textbook/school supplies fees at the bookstore. Campus Ministry and Billiken Bounty also stepped in to help as well, offering counseling, other monetary assistance and offering clothing and food to students in need. The office also worked with students to make sure they were not affected by a delay in IRS documents that are required to process student loans.


This is not the only time that financial services have assisted students in their financial needs. The office has a reputation for helping students facing family financial issues and veteran students that rely on government funds to help pay their tuition.


Cari Wickliffe, assistant VP and director of financial services, said that they did not expect the problems to be fixed immediately by the government’s opening, and that financial services would continue to help students whose families were facing financial hardship after the shutdown.


Financial services may find themselves continuing this policy further into the semester, as another government shutdown could be on the horizon. If President Trump does not sign a compromise bill by Friday, the government could be shut down again. The new bill, which is supported by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, offers President Trump money for some “border fencing and immigration detention” but it does not quite offer as much money as he originally wanted. The disagreement over border security measures and money for a wall at the southern border is what kept President Trump from signing the original bill back in December and caused the government to shut down.


If the bill isn’t signed by Friday the same families who were affected by the shutdown last month could be financially impacted again, for the second time this year. In the midst of uncertainty it is hard for students to focus on their schoolwork and responsibilities. Wickliffe said that SLU financial services recognizes this and that it is “part of their mission” to help students be able to focus on their education, and that they would be there to help students with their financial burdens.