Gov. shuts down; Oswego braces for future effects

The U.S. government is currently shut down due to a lack of bi-partisanship in Congress, resulting in the furlough roughly 800,000 federal employees.

The government closed Oct. 1, the first day of federal fiscal year. It is the responsibility of the president and Congress to make interim appropriations or full-year appropriations and have them signed into law before this date. If they fail to do so, as in this circumstance, a funding gap ensues and leads to shutdown.

While the government in Oswego and New York state continue to function, though there are still reasons for concern during the shutdown. Though many problems are not immediate.

Oswego State’s government funding has been appropriated, therefore the shutdown does not disrupt the currently-funded programs at Oswego State, such as the Federal Work-Study program or research programs funded through national grants.

This is similar to a problem discussed earlier this year, when sequestration affected the national government.

Currently, the National Science Foundation will not be able to provide any new funding opportunities.

It will be unable to respond to any emails sent its way during this time. Though its website, www.NSF.gov, states it “will respond to your inquiries as soon as practicable after normal operations have been resumed.”

As of now, the shutdown will not affect Oswego State.

“At worse we think it could cause a delay,” Julie Blissert, director of public affairs for Oswego State, said.

Blissert said that nothing is delayed, but this is all dependent on how long the shutdown lasts. Financial aid for students has already been granted and funded for the Fall 2013 semester.

According to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website, the shutdown only poses a “limited impact on the FAFSA process, to the delivery of federal student aid, or to the federal student loan repayment functions.” Permanent and multi-year funding federal aid programs, like Pell Grants and direct student loans, will continue to function.

However, the funding for Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation and Promise Neighborhoods financial aid programs will only last until Dec. 31, according to the Education Department.

Blissert said that there is no expected affect on financial aid, adding that while there is no delayed funding as of now, it “depends on how long the government is shutdown.”

In addition, the Education Department released its contingency plan on Sept. 27 in the event that the government would shut down. The plan calls for 3,983 employees to be furloughed, which is over 90 percent of its staff. For the first week of the furlough, only 212 employees are labeled as “excepted” and for weeks two through four, there are 242 employees “excepted.”

“Excepted” employees are those deemed essential to governmental operation.

If the government remains closed into January, there will be no financial aid for the more than 14 million students receiving grants and loans.

The longest government shutdown lasted 21 days from Dec. 16, 1995 until Jan. 5, 1996. However, many have noted that the current situation is much different, with a more divided Congress and a weakened economy.

The shutdown is coinciding with the country reaching the $16.699 trillion debt limit, which was set May 19 of this year. The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew sent a letter to Congress on Sept. 25 to alert it that the government would reach the debt ceiling  “no later than October 17.” The estimated monetary amount the government would have to operate would be $30 billion, which Lew claims “would be far short of net expenditures on certain days, which can be as high as $60 billion.” This would also lead to the first time the U.S. has ever not been able to meet all of its obligations. In the letter Lew states that it would be “catastrophic” if the government were unable to pay all of its bills.