Without successful negotiations between President Obama and Congress today to prevent sequestration, spending cuts intended to save the government $85 billion will begin automatically as a result of the “fiscal cliff” deal reached in January.
Congress failed to find a solution Thursday, and today’s meeting is not expected to produce any meaningful results, according to the Washington Post. Instead, politicians are looking toward preventing the government from shutting down on March 27.
The spending reduction is expected to have widespread consequences for the nation as a whole and the District of Columbia in particular. The cuts will be split evenly between defense and non-defense government programs, with such essential services as Medicare and Social Security protected from the automatic cuts.
Education programs will inevitably help bear the brunt of the cutbacks, and Federal Work Study and the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant, two financial aid programs for college students, are vulnerable to these cuts.
According to a factsheet from the White House, the cuts will affect about 500 fewer students in D.C. receiving college aid and approximately 510 fewer receiving work-study.
However, Associate Vice President for Federal Relations Scott Fleming (SFS ’72) said that sequestration would not affect financial aid packages until next academic year. The severity of the cuts remains uncertain.
“It’s not like a cookie cutter, where everybody does the same thing,” Fleming said.
Each federal agency has the authority to choose the areas of its budget to cut and how much to cut from each area, but no official specific plans for how sequestration cuts will be applied have been announced by any departments.
“They are holding it close to the vest,” Fleming said.
Despite the impending cuts, the university still remains firm on its policy regarding need-blind admissions, according to university spokeswoman Stacy Kerr
The majority of the money in Georgetown’s financial aid packages comes from the university itself and donors, not the federal government, which supplies fewer than 10 percent of aid. Fleming believes that the university can produce funds to compensate for changes in federal policy to ensure that the university maintains its financial aid standards.
Federally funded science and medical research grants will also be impacted. The White House factsheet stated that the National Science Foundation would issue about 1,000 fewer research grants and awards, affecting around 12,000 scientists and students.
The National Institutes of Health, the primary source of biomedical and health-related grants, expects to see a 10 percent cut in non-competitive renewals of existing awards.Individual institutes and centers at the NIH will set policy for how the cuts will be addressed, and Georgetown University Medical Center will work to absorb the cuts the best it can, according to Howard Federoff, executive dean of the Georgetown School of Medicine. Federoff believes that GUMC, which receives much of its $132 million in sponsored research from the government, will be able to effectively manage the cuts anticipated by the NIH.
Kerr said that the university’s medical research is also funded in large part by the Department of Defense, whose spending will be cut by 23 percent.
In addition to medical grants, the university also receives funds from government agencies for research and education in other areas. Fleming noted that Georgetown receives money from the State Department to run programs such as the English Language Fellows Program, which brings with it an $8.5 million grant, and the Scholarships for Education and Economic Development, among others.
The White House indicated that the District would lose about $1 million in environmental funding that could affect water and air quality. The city is also expected to have a cut of about $80,000 in Justice Assistance Grants that go towards crime prevention and prosecution.