GV president says federal spending cuts will have no immediate impact on university

Becky Spaulding

In 2011, the U.S. Congress passed a law saying if the legislators couldn’t agree on a plan to reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion, about $1 trillion in automatic, arbitrary and across-the-board spending cuts would start to take effect on March 1, 2013.

The so-called sequester went into effect this month after the Congress did not come to an deficit agreement.

These budget cuts will affect many government-funded programs in this country, including colleges, but how will it affect students at Grand Valley State University?

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 66 percent of all undergraduates received some type of financial aid in the 2007-2008 school year, and 47 percent received federal student aid.

The Obama administration released a report at the beginning of March that predicted “around 2,490 fewer low-income students in Michigan would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college,” and nationwide cuts to small business loans, research and innovation could affect up to 12,000 students and scientists’ projects and jobs.

The sequester will also cause a slight increase in fees for student loans, according to studentaid.ed.gov.

Many GVSU students rely on financial aid to pay for not only classes, but room and board, food and other amenities.

Students who receive Pell Grants can rest easy – these are exempt from the sequester’s cuts.

As for other aid, Vice President for University Relations Matthew McLogan said we don’t have much to worry about in the near future, and that the university is monitoring developments closely.

“There are several areas where we are watching where there could be an effect in future fiscal years. One of those involves Pell Grants and student loans, (as well as) public broadcasting and research contracts,” McLogan said. “We do not believe that there will be any adverse impacts in the current fiscal year, which extends through Sept. 30, the reason being that most of the programs that would potentially be affected are forward-funded.”

Programs that are forward-funded are paid for through the current fiscal year, “so the soonest there could be potential impact would be Oct. of 2013 or later,” he added.

GVSU President Thomas Haas also said there will likely be no immediate impact on GVSU students from the budget cuts.

“There is no impact immediately, and as far as long-term, that’s to be determined,” Haas said. “We are hopeful there will be no long-term effects (for GVSU).”

Haas mentioned that though there is no immediate worry for students, cuts to programs like the TRiO program, which helps youth from low-income families prepare for college, may have an effect on future enrollees.

McLogan said the university is following developments closely as they roll out, but not every detail is known regarding the sequester’s effects on colleges.

“Some of the ways that the sequester might roll out affecting educational programs is actually not yet heard – not every detail of this is known,” McLogan said. “This is, I think, still a work in progress, as opposed to some other agencies where the response is already known and in some cases occurring – that has not yet happened (for education).”

As far as national cuts to small business loans and research grants, McLogan said he does not believe they will affect upcoming graduates in their job search.

Whether or not GVSU will have to make overall sacrifices in the future will be known as more details come to light about the sequester’s cuts to higher education, McLogan said.

“The level of detail that I would need to have to answer that question has just not yet been forthcoming from Washington,” McLogan said. “We are mindful and we will watch it closely, but we are not overtly worried at this point.”

“I think the impact is going to be elsewhere, beyond (colleges),” he said. “The way this is being rolled out in Washington, it is affecting other government agencies more and education less. I think that’s probably the tone for the foreseeable future, but we’re watching closely.”
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