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Cornell University has shed light on plans given a possible federal government shutdown.

September 28, 2023

Cornell Prepares for Impact of Potential Federal Government Shutdown

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As an ongoing voting deadlock of a partisan spending bill may cause the federal government to shut down, the University acknowledged that possibility and shed light on preparedness plans in an email sent to the Cornell community on Thursday, Sept. 29 from Prof. Krystyn J. Van Vliet, engineering, who also serves as the vice president for research and innovation, and Joel M. Malina, the vice president for University Relations.

Congress has made little progress on passing the government spending bill, with the Democratic-controlled Senate requesting more funding in opposition to the Republican-led House of Representatives, who refuse to pass the bill. If Congress does not approve federal funding appropriation plans by Oct. 1 — usually the start of the government’s annual fiscal cycle — the federal government will shut down Sunday.

The shutdown would “affect university education, research and other operations,” according to the email.

“For our students, if you receive federal financial aid or veterans affairs benefits, no immediate impact is anticipated this semester,” Vliet wrote in the email. “If you are a Cornell employee or student seeking a visa renewal during a shutdown period, related federal processes are expected to be paused.”

During a government shutdown, though continued to be paid, Pell Grants and student loans may be disrupted as employees from education departments would be away from work. Scientific research agencies like the National Institutes of Health would similarly furlough most of their employees, impacting research activities.

The email acknowledged the potential stress from the shutdown and said that the University is prepared to support people impacted by the situation and respond to questions and concerns.

“In all of the varied circumstances that can impact Cornell life and our broader activities, we will work together to anticipate and reduce disruptions as much as possible,” the email said.

The email indicates that additional information will be sent to the Cornell community, particularly among those most affected. 

“If you are part of the broad Cornell research community that is sponsored by or works with federal government agencies, more specific communications will follow today,” the email said.