Financial Aid could suffer under sequestration
UNLV students could lose a percentage of their financial aid and see campus jobs dwindle as an $85 billion cut in the federal government’s budget becomes a reality. The cuts, known as sequestration, will result in every state having to tighten their finances.
Gov. Brian Sandoval said on Thursday that Nevada’s budget will be reduced by at least $38.6 million within the next seven months, with education and tourism possibly taking the biggest hit.
My News 3, the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, reported on Wednesday that “thousands” of UNLV students could lose “a percentage” of their financial aid by fall. More than 100 work-study students statewide could lose their jobs, according to The Washington Post.
Norm Bedford, director of Financial Aid & Scholarships, told My News 3 that UNLV could see a loss of $126,000 in funding for its federal work study program, which grants jobs to students based on financial need as determined by Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There are 254 UNLV students participating in the work-study program who earn about $6,000 a year, according to My News 3. The station said at least 11 of these work-study students could lose their jobs due to cutbacks in the program.
Bedford said that funding for Federal Pell Grants will decrease by the 2014-15 academic year, though the amount is yet to be determined.
“To me that’s a big deal because where is the money going to come from? Again, from the students,” Bedford told My News 3. “So somebody has to pay for it and it’s going to be the students.”
The sequestration effects could prove detrimental for UNLV students, many of whom rely on their financial aid and campus jobs to pay for their education. About 70 percent of UNLV’s student population receives some type of financial aid, according to the Financial Aid & Scholarships website. The website shows that the number of students applying for financial aid rose by 48 percent in 2011-12 compared to the 2007-08 academic year. Since 2007, tuition at UNLV has risen by about 70 percent, with the most recent increase occurring in 2011 when undergraduate students saw their tuition rise by 13 percent.
Sandoval said on Thursday that the effects of the sequester on Nevada will be damaging, especially for federal and civilian employees, including those tied with the TSA and Nellis Air Force Base. Nellis Air Force Base and Fallon Naval Air Base will see their defense budget reduced by $12.1 million, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
National media outlets have also said that airport employees may have to work fewer hours, which would result in longer waits. This could have a negative effect on Nevada’s tourism, an important source of profit for the state. Last year, gaming revenue on the Las Vegas strip brought in more than $6 billion, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
“[Nevada] has a large federal presence,” Sandoval said in a statement on Thursday. “So whether you are a rancher who relies on the [Bureau of Land Management] for grazing permits or a traveler who relies on air traffic controllers, the potential impacts on our state’s economy are great.”
The sequester was intended to be a last resort to decrease the country’s $16 trillion debt, but after Democrats and Republicans failed to reach an agreement on spending by the deadline on Friday, the cuts automatically took effect. President Barack Obama signed the executive order on Friday to mark the start of sequestration.
Republicans and Democrats still have an opportunity to stop the automatic cuts within the next few weeks, but neither side seems willing to compromise on an alternative. For months, both parties have resorted to blame tactics, accusing each other of failing to compromise.
Sandoval assured Nevadans that his administration has been planning for the worst since last year, but added there is no escape from the sequester.
“While we have worked to set money aside and have a plan to move forward, there are still some areas of the budget which will be affected,” he said in his statement.