How Would a Federal Government Shutdown affect Georgia Tech?
A partial government shutdown may seem a distant D.C. problem, where talk of closed national parks or museums would affect many, but perhaps not close to home.
But on campus, talk of a potential closure is on the minds of some staff, who must consider what preparations need to be made in the event of a federal shutdown.
“We are working with the accountants in the Bursar’s Office to make sure we have as much processed as possible by the end of this week,” said Marie Mons, director of the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. Students who are still completing financial aid applications for the fall could potentially see a delay in disbursement if processing centers were to shut down. The majority of financial aid funds were delivered at the beginning of the term, however, meaning most students’ aid would not be affected by a short-term shutdown.
In the Office of International Education, a fall shutdown doesn’t pose the threat it would if it took place in the spring or summer, when domestic students are preparing to study abroad and international students are completing final paperwork related to enrollment or graduation.
“We have had government shutdowns at other times in my 18 years at Tech, but I can’t say those were very dramatic for us,” said Amy Henry, director of the Office of International Education. “The impact would be on students and scholars who need services from the federal government.” These needs can include visa processing, review of applications for Optional Practical Training, passport applications, and other requests made of the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security.
For research, effects would be greater but are still largely unknown. A shutdown would affect each federal agency in a slightly different way. In general, activities related to grants and contracts from the prior year would continue, but additional support and administrative assistance may be limited. New grant applications would be on hold, and no new awards would likely be issued. Accounting would continue to submit invoices and make cash requests as systems allow, but payment may be delayed.
What is a shutdown?
Oct. 1 marks the first day of the government’s next budget year, but Congress has yet to pass a new budget to fund it. It could still pass a Continuing Resolution to temporarily fund the government at its current rate of operation, however, putting off the approval of a new budget until a later specified date.
What “shuts down” in a shutdown?
In the event of a shutdown, all but essential services would be halted until a budget is passed. Essential services include systems such as Social Security and Medicare payments, active military duty, and the United States Postal Service, which would all continue operation.
Where do we stand now?
On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate voted to pass a bill to keep the government running until Nov. 15. Congress is expected to work through the weekend to come to a resolution. The last shutdown happened nearly 20 years ago, lasting a total of 28 days split between Nov. 14–19, 1995, and Dec. 16, 1995 – Jan. 6, 1996.