Now that the federal government has officially shut down not only will the majority of employees from the likes of NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Commerce be furloughed, but higher education will also face the consequences that come along with a government shutdown. Even if only for a temporary amount of time, universities risk the threat of further cuts to funding for some financial aid programs and scientific research. The impact on students, colleges, faculty, and researchers will likely be minimal – at least at first – but there's no way of predicting how long this government shutdown will last. The state of higher education could be more drastically affected by the government shutdown than expected.
The shutdown will close the majority of operations at the National Institutes of Health, which is the biggest supplier of federal money for research at universities across the U.S. Research at NIH's main headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland is also due to be put on hold, including medical trials since no new patients will be able to be accepted, according to the Department of Health and Human Service's contingency plans.
Thankfully the agency just finished off one of its grant award cycles, so researchers don't have to fear losing out on funding from the NIH at the moment. The next round of grant applications aren't due until October 5, with awards not expected to be given out until December or January, according to Carrie D. Wolinetz, president of United for Medical Research, so that should leave enough time for officials to catch up and ensure applications are reviewed in time for the deadline. As of right now, though, the agency will "not take any actions on grant applications or awards."