Government shutdown may hurt colleges, public schools

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The government shutdown's effect on education funding could immediately hurt some college programs, and the impact on higher education and public schools would worsen with time, officials said Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Education, in its contingency plan, said financial aid programs that require department personnel, such as Federal Work-Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants for university and college students, would be affected in the near term.

"Higher education is not insulated from the effects of a government shutdown, and while we do not know the full extent of the impact on SUNY, the severity will largely depend on the duration," SUNY spokesman David Doyle said.

The federal agency said distribution of Pell Grants and federal direct student aid loans will not be affected.

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The shutdown forced furloughs of more than 90 percent of the department's 4,400-member workforce, the agency said.

"A protracted delay in department obligations and payments beyond one week would severely curtail the cash flow to school districts, colleges and universities, and vocational rehabilitation agencies" that depend on its funds for services, the department said.

Some department employees will continue to work to deal with $22 billion in authorized obligations to states for certain programs. Those funds already were appropriated.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which provides federal funding for school meal programs, said it will continue funding through October. Diane Eppolito, quality assurance and planning analyst at Long Island Head Start, said the shutdown has not forced a reduction in local services for young children.

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