Spending cuts begin to take effect

Shelby DeHaven, ’Doah Staff Writer
March 6, 2013

'Doah photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

‘Doah photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

It is happening all over again. On Jan. 1, the U.S. faced falling over the fiscal cliff, and now we have to deal with the sequester, which took effect on March 1. The sequester is a set of automatic cuts that were set to go into effect by the 2011 Congress who could not agree on spending cuts while they were raising the debt ceiling.

With the sequester in effect, programs like Head Start will see funding cuts, FBI agents and other government employees will be forced to take furlough days and fewer government employees will be hired. Economics and finance professor Clifford Thies explains that the cuts are taken from areas considered to be “discretionary spending.” In total, $85 billion will be cut between the beginning of March and the end of September. Over the next 10 years, there will be over $1.2 trillion in budget cuts.

According to political science professor Bill Shendow, Virginia will be one of the states hit the hardest. “The federal government has a strong presence in the state, particularly with a large number of federal employees and government contractors located in northern Virginia, and the military having a strong presence in the Tidewater.” The sequester will cut  $1.6 billion from the Department Justice’s budget over the next 10 years.

While the cuts to education will mostly only affect public schools, Shenandoah University still has the potential to be affected since the school does receive some funding from the federal government, Shendow explains. And while the sequester might not have a large impact directly on the school, Shendow points out that the university’s future is tied to the state’s overall economy. Since Virginia is going to be one of the states most affected by these cuts, a downturn in the state’s economy will indirectly impact S.U.

Students however, will see an immediate impact in their lives from the sequester cuts. Thies explains that while Pell Grants will not be affected, other federal spending concerning higher education, such as the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant, will be reduced by 8 percent. He also “suspects current grants will be honored, and fewer new grants will be made.” In addition, fees on student loans will rise by an unknown amount.  According to usatodayeducate.com, there will also be 8.2 percent in cuts to the federal work-study programs, which means, “33,000 students from across the nation would be ‘eliminated’ from the work-study program.”

With the sequester now in effect, we will all begin to feel the impact of these cuts unless Congress takes action.

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