Financial aid benefits on hold for active duty coastguards students as Government Shutdown continues

While financial aid distribution is not being affect by the government shutdown, active duty coastguard students, the majority of whom are on the Armstrong campus, have had their tuition assistance program cut.

Shiann Sivell

Active duty Coast Guard students are currently the only students being affected from the government shutdown and their tuition assistance on hold.

The Office of Financial Aid stated in an email that financial aid will not be affected in the government shutdown. Currently, financial aid refunds are still scheduled for Jan. 24.

However, students receiving certain military benefits are being affected.

Phil Gore, Director of Military and Veterans Affairs on the Armstrong Campus, said that the only students that are affected by the shutdown are active duty Coast Guard students.

“Across all campuses, we only have four students that are active duty, but then we have 11 active duty spouses or dependents,” Gore said.

Bill Gammon, the Military and Veteran Outreach Coordinator on the Georgia Southern Campus said that there are not many active Coast Guard students on the Georgia Southern campus and that the majority are on the Armstrong campus.

Students who are affiliated in other branches of the military have their tuition funded through the Department of Defense. Students who receive GI bill benefits are funded through Veteran Affairs, which are funded through the entire fiscal year and are subsequently not affected by the shutdown, said Gore.

“However the coastguard is not a part of the Department of Defense,” Gore said. “They are part of Homeland Security, which is affected by the shutdown. Our Coast Guardsmen are not getting paid right now.”

Gore added that on Jan. 9, the Coast Guard suspended its tuition assistance program for active duty Coast Guardsmen until the shutdown is over.

Despite the program being cut, Gore said the affected students will still be able to attend classes.

Alternative assistance

Gore said that he has been in contact with several of the organizations in the community that support Armstrong’s military community to helped the affected students.

The Armstrong campus has been working with Brian Erickson, Commanding Officer, US Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, GA, to direct Coast Guardsmen and their families to the military resource center on Armstrong, Gore said.

“They have a supply kitchen set up on Hunter Airfield where they can go and get food and diapers,” Gore said. “They’re accepting items there as well for anyone who would like to donate.”

Gore said that he biggest need for the Coast Guardsmen and their families are gift and gas cards.

Donations can be locally made to the Military Resource Center on the Statesboro Campus at Russell Union 2024 or on the Armstrong Campus at PAC 113. The office of Military and Veterans Affairs will deliver gifts to Coast Guard Air Station Savannah on their behalf.

Donations can also be made by going to the USCG Low Country CPOA Facebook Page.

Government shutdown review

The 2018-2019 shutdown began on Dec. 21, 2018 and, as of Jan. 12, is currently the longest shutdown in U.S. history, lasting 22 days with no end in sight.

With issues such as tax refunds delays and furloughed pay affects thousands of Americans, the uncertainty has reached financial aid offices in several colleges across the US.

Universities such as Fresno State in California are having issues submitting IRS tax documents and subsequently must turn in alternative documents to access their aid.

President Trump told reporters Jan. 4 he is prepared to keep the government shut down until an agreement on the U.S.-Mexico border wall is reached.

Shiann Sivell, The George-Anne Enterprise Reporter, [email protected]