The sequester, round two

Students may see a dip in financial aid next fall as the sequester cuts continue.

The country will continue to feel the unnecessary pain caused by the $85 billion in federal budget cuts known as sequestration until Congress is able to restore funding. The Minnesota Daily reported last week that January’s second round of sequestration cuts might severely reduce federal financial aid for students next fall.

The Pell Grant, which is the largest federal need-based grant program, was originally protected from the sequester but may be included in the next round of cuts. Work-study grants could also take a hit, as the White House estimates that about 500 fewer students in Minnesota will get work-study jobs in the 2013-14 school year because of the budget cuts.

The sequester hurts the University of Minnesota in other ways, too. In October, University President Eric Kaler told the Daily the University anticipates losing $40 to $50 million in research funding.

To their credit, University officials and state lawmakers have put in a lot of work over the past year, both in keeping tuition costs down and maintaining strong investments in research programs. However, their efforts may be jeopardized as support from the federal government is reduced.

The Associated Press reported last month that in the two years before the 2012-13 academic year, “the federal aid per full-time equivalent undergraduate student declined 9 percent, or about $325.” With dramatic cuts in research, declining financial aid and more cuts to come, incompetent congressional leadership is severely harming the nation’s future. Congress must repeal the sequester before it does any more damage.