The college will cover federal financial aid funding jeopardized by the federal government shutdown, according to officials.
A letter from President Mark Rocha was sent out to the college this week explaining federal financial aid checks may not be processed after this Friday and that checks would be disbursed this week anyway using college funds.
“For this reason I have approved disbursing financial to students … so that every PCC student and veteran has the funds they need and deserve,” Rocha said in the letter.
The college will cover approximately $5.5 million from cash reserves, according to Robert Miller, senior vice president of business and college services.
Karen Semien, interim dean of enrollment services, discovered in a phone call with the Department of Education last week that certain federal financial aid grants were at risk of not being disbursed if the federal shutdown continued.
“From the communication I received, there was the possibility of funding being stopped on Oct. 18,” Semien said. “Instead of us waiting around, all students in a queue would not have received their financial aid, so the institution decided to advance and be proactive.”
Grants that were at risk are Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educations Opportunity Grants, according to Semien.
Both Rocha and Miller agreed that having a frugal college budget plan has kept PCC safe in instances where there are financial shortcomings.
“Here’s one practical continuing reason for maintaining adequate budget reserves,” Rocha said. Miller commented on how the federal shutdown could have negatively affected the college if PCC did not have emergency reserves.
“The Federal Government shutdown has negatively impacted hundreds of thousands of Americans and the national and global economies. In this instance because of the Board’s fiscal policies, the college is able to assure that students’ lives are not disrupted as a result of the federal shutdown—at least as regards their financial aid.”
However, if Congress does not agree on a federal budget for next year, students receiving federal financial aid may be at risk of not receiving it next year, according to Kim Miles, assistant dean of scholarships and financial aid.
“ [If] we don’t have a 2014-‘15 budget, that would affect next year’s financial aid,” Miles said. “[Financial aid] reductions could start occurring in January.”
Semien explained that the college might not be able to cover federal financial aid next year if Congress cannot agree to a budget for next year.
“The federal government shutting down will eventually effect all of us,” Semien said. “As it continues, unfortunately it could cause more issues where we wouldn’t be able to continue funding. This is really when we have to check and see where we are on [the federal shutdown] daily.”