Possible lasting impacts of shutdown on education

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News 12 This Morning/Friday Oct. 18, 2013

(WRDW) -- "There's been some talks about 'how do I complete my FAFSA if the government is shutdown?'" said Linda Aubrey Higgins.

That question about federal financial aid, was asked by many college students as they wondered whether colleges and universities have had or will have any problems processing applications because of the16 day shutdown.

But, Aubrey Higgins, USC Aiken's financial aid director says so far, so good.

"We've had students complete their FAFSA and submit it to our office with no issues," she said.

She says there were worries as to what would happen if the shutdown continued through to the start of the spring semester.

"Just because we were able to complete the FAFSA--we still get money from the federal government," she explained.

More than 2,500 students at USC Aiken receive financial aid. That's about 90 percent of the student body who might not have receive funding in the spring if the government shutdown would have continued.

"If the Department of Education was still shut down and we weren't able to get our money from the Department of Education, how would these students receive their financial aid money?" she asked.

And although the coast is clear, that's only for now. That question could remain.

Only a short term deal has been reached to fund the government through until January 15th and if Congress can't reach a decision at that point, Aubrey Higgins says students will be impacted.

But she's says she feel optimistic that won't happen.

"I really think that the powers that be will make the right decision for the people and I think that when January comes, students will be able to receive their financial aid money, they'll be able to pay for school," she said.

As for now, she says it is safe to fill out the FAFSA in preparation for the spring semester.

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