Those in the other Washington and higher education experts believe that if the federal government shuts down the impact to higher education will be modest. That is in the short-term.
The federal government may shutdown on October 1 if Congress does not agree to a stopgap spending measure to keep the government going. It is unclear on October 1 what federal programs related to higher education would be impacted. Last week the White House directed federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Education to update their plans for operation during a government shutdown. The documents have yet to be released.
Looking back at the last close call in 2011, the Education Department estimated that it would furlough almost all of its staff and would rely on a limited number of people on a limited basis if the shutdown was prolonged longer than a week. At this time the Department said that the administration of federal student aid programs would largely be unaffected at least for the first week. A shutdown beyond a week would have a more severe impact on financial aid.
Beyond the potential shutdown next week, higher education is looking ahead to the multiple federal fiscal fights likely this fall. Even if the shutdown does not occur Congress is expected to pass a stopgap measure. This will be a temporary fix and will leave in place the sequester cuts to campus-based financial aid programs and scientific research. Making the problem further complex are the looming negotiations over the debt ceiling – October 17. If the federal government were to run out of money higher education is concerned about the impact on federal student aid and research funding.