What Would Sequestration Mean for Higher Ed?

Friday, March 1, 2013

As automatic government spending cuts creep closer, higher ed organizations are bracing for potential cuts in student loan funding and the trickle down of major cuts to agencies that support the bulk of institutional research and development. Slashing Research Funding The biggest threat to higher education appears to be in the area of research funding. The sequester—$1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts that will go into effect in the likely event that Congress and the White House fail to reach an agreement on spending by March 1—includes $6.8 billion in planned cuts to the various agencies that support higher education research and development: the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, NASA, and the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Agriculture. The NIH and NSF are slated to lose $1.6 billion and $400 million respectively. “We don’t yet have a very good playbook for knowing what individual agencies will do,” says Terry Hartle, senior vice president of government and public affairs for the American Council on Education. “I think the frustration over sequestration is not only that the money is going to be reduced in a very heavy-handed, across-the-board fashion, but that it obliterates the ability to plan.”