Impact of government shutdown ‘minimal’

Capitol Building in Washington, DC

UIC should not see major changes if the federal shutdown is short-lived, university officials say.

The federal government shutdown that went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday will not have a major impact on UIC in the short term, university officials say.

“The overall impact will be minimal, provided that the government shutdown doesn’t last very long,” said Thomas Hardy, executive director for university relations. “We are monitoring the situation.”

UIC has not been directed to stop using its federal research dollars, but the shutdown would stop federal institutions from processing future grant proposals, said Mitra Dutta, vice chancellor for research.

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research has developed a website to update the campus on the impact of the shutdown.

“We receive funding from a large number of agencies and we will be affected by the shutdown when federal agency staff are unable to process the submission or the award of grants and contracts,” she said.

“None of the agencies are telling us to stop spending the grants that are in-house already, so students and staff who are funded on grants should not be faced with any difficulty for their contract period.”

Government agencies preparing for the shutdown moved fast to process grant awards before Tuesday’s action, Dutta said. UIC researchers received more than 160 awards in the last 10 days.

Students should not see an initial impact to their federal financial aid because most have already received their federal Pell grants and loans for the semester, said Timothy Opgenorth, director of financial aid.

“At this time, everything we are hearing from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators is that the impact will be minimal in the short term,” he said.

The Department of Education plans to furlough nearly 4,000 members of its 4,225-member staff, which could have an impact later this year. But many of the systems used by the Department of Education to process student aid are run by third-party vendors, not the government, and would not be affected by the shutdown, Opgenorth said.

“The likely disruption to department grant programs will be a potential delay in activities necessary to make competitive and formula grant awards later in the year,” the Department of Education wrote in a memo to financial aid administrators.

“Federal Pell grant and federal direct loan programs should not be affected as these funds are already appropriated and do not require further Congressional authorization.”

UI Health should also experience minimal impact, because Medicare and Medicaid recipients will continue to receive health care benefits. Payments for Medicare services, the Affordable Care Act and other mandatory health care programs will continue but likely at a slower rate, said Bryan Becker, associate vice president for operations in hospital administration.

Medicaid payments should not be affected because states have already received their funds through October, he said.

“The impact of the government shutdown on our healthcare operations is modest,” Becker said.

“Reimbursement for health care services is largely protected, meaning that we are guaranteed to receive payment.”

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