Sequester Cuts Will Impact Higher Education

By: Fay Li Email
By: Fay Li Email

The deadline for Congress to reach a deal is looming, but universities and community colleges in Michigan are still unsure exactly how much they'll lose.

"I'm very optimistic before the impact hits LCC, our leaders in Washington will reach a deal," said Lisa Webb Sharpe, senior vice president for finance at Lansing Community College.

However, if the impact hits, it can be painful. LCC gets about $4 million from the federal government every year. Any cuts to that can mean less money for work study, and less for students needing the extra support like displaced homemakers and single parents.

"The problem with the effects of sequestration at least on our campus is it affects those who need it [support] the most," said Sharpe.

Four-year institutions like Michigan State University are also looking closely at negotiations in Washington. Experts say sequestration includes cuts to discretionary programs.

"For example, the National Institute of Health and other discretionary research programs are cut by almost $400 million. That's a big number. That means grants that researchers currently have will not be renewed in coming years or the funding would be drastically cut," said Jeff Williams, CEO at Public Sector Consultants.

An example of a federal funded project on MSU's campus is the FRIB project. If sequestration goes into effect, it's still unclear exactly what will happen.

"It's a very very confusing time to try to run an institution that relies on government funding right now...You don't know what is going to happen on Friday and you don't know if congress will fix it on Saturday," said Williams.


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