Yesterday afternoon Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi sent an email to students and faculty announcing that the University would temporarily put off collecting unpaid tuition, housing fees and other charges for federal employees and family members who are furloughed.
Since Dec. 22 of last year, parts of the government have been shut down because President Donald J. Trump and Democratic politicians have been unable to agree over Trump’s request for more than $5 billion in funding for a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico, according to Al Jazeera.
Furloughed employees are considered “non-excepted,” or non-essential, meaning they are not allowed to work even on a volunteer basis, according to The Washington Post. These employees also cannot substitute annual leave or other methods of paid time off for the duration they are unpaid.
Barchi acknowledged in the email that it was a stressful time for federal employees who were being put on temporary leave due to the furlough.
“I hope we can eliminate disruption of academic careers while the federal shutdown continues. Although University budgets are constrained, we feel it is better for the University to temporarily carry this burden, rather than our students affected by the shutdown,” he said.
Qualified students who have not yet paid their term bills will have their unpaid balances suspended until the shutdown ends. In order to qualify, Barchi said these students are required to show that they or their parents are furloughed federal employees.
Though the shutdown has affected federal workers in nine different departments, funding for the Department of Education, contained within the Appropriations Act of the Department of Labor and Health and Human Services, was approved by Congress and enacted by the president last September. Barchi said services such as federal student loans, grants or work study programs were all unaffected by the shutdown. Assistance to federal furloughed employees and family will also be applicable to any balances regarding federal student aid.
The furloughed assistance will be available to qualified Rutgers students at all three branches, as well as Rutgers Biomedical and Health Services. Students who wish to seek assistance are advised to visit Student Accounting, Billing and Cashier Services, Barchi said.