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How the Federal Shutdown Affects Howard University

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As Congress continues its negotiation of the federal budget, there has been significant discussion about the potential for a government shutdown as the federal fiscal year will expire at midnight on September 30. Students, faculty, and staff may have questions or concerns about how this impasse may impact University operations. 

During a federal government shutdown, the delivery of many services by federal agencies will be severely curtailed. Most government employees will not be able to answer phone calls or respond to emails, and the public can expect delays or pauses  to federal services they are accustomed to receiving. Please note that the longer a shutdown persists, the more issues may pile up for government staff to address once they return to work.  

This Q&A document has been developed to answer questions that you may have about federal programs and services that may impact you and your work as well as provide information about how the University may be impacted if a shutdown does occur on October 1. However, we do expect the University to continue normal operations.

University Finances 

I know Howard University receives a direct federal appropriation.  Will the University still  pay its employees, vendors, and meet other financial obligations?  

Yes. The University’s financial position is strong enough to meet its obligations during a short-term federal government shutdown.  We will continue to pay our employees, vendors, and meet our other financial obligations.  We also established a line of credit with our bank if the length of a federal government shutdown continues for an extended period.  That line of credit will allow us to continue to pay our bills until the government reopens and our federal appropriation is disbursed to us.   

Howard University Hospital 

Will Howard University Hospital be impacted by a federal government shutdown?  

Howard University Hospital is expected to continue normal hospital operations without any disruptions from a federal government shutdown. Because healthcare spending is considered “mandatory spending,” there would likely be a reduction of or cap on payment reimbursements rather than a full stoppage of payments. In prior federal government shutdowns, federal reimbursements such as Medicare and Medicaid, were reduced rather than withheld. 

Student Aid 

I receive federal loans to cover tuition and fees. Will my enrollment for the 2023-2024 academic year be in jeopardy with a federal shutdown? 

No. Since student aid is disbursed at the beginning of the semester, student financial aid should have already been processed to each students’ account. Additionally, with most aid programs funded a year in advance, student aid should not be impacted by a short-term shutdown.   

The U.S. Department of Education is working on rolling out a simplified Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, expected to be released in December 2023. A government shutdown could delay the release of that form and impact eligibility determination for student aid programs. 

If I have questions about my student aid and need to speak with someone, can I do so if a shutdown occurs? 

The Howard University Office of Financial Aid will continue its availability to provide services to students. Furthermore, the Department of Education and the Office of Federal Student Aid use contractors for most student aid operations, which should minimize disruptions in the event of a federal shutdown. Borrowers looking for assistance specifically from the Department of Education will not receive it during a shutdown. Students applying for funding from the Department of Education - whether loans or loan forgiveness - could experience delays.  


I am a veteran. Could my benefits be in jeopardy with a federal shutdown? 

There is a likelihood that benefit-processing delays for veteran students could occur, depending on which activities are deemed essential during a federal shutdown. However, similar to student aid, the period for certifying GI Bill benefits generally starts in August. Most benefits for veteran students should have been certified by this point in the semester.  If any student has questions or concerns about their veteran benefits being impacted by a potential government shutdown, please call 202-806-2232 or email Veterans@howard.edu. 

International Students 

I am an international student. Will a federal shutdown impact my ability to continue my studies here? 

If a federal shutdown does occur, some immigration services will remain operational while some services may not. Consular services with the U.S. State Department will remain operational – both domestically and abroad – while funds remain available. However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may have delays in processing applications for status changes as it will only carry out exempt activities such as law enforcement. 

Research and Grant Funding 

Howard University has made significant strides on the way to becoming an R1 institution. Will a shutdown halt this progress? 

While institutions that have already received grant funding should not face issues during a shutdown, it is likely that they would not be able to receive new grants or technical assistance from federal agencies. Additionally, research agencies cannot begin new programs, issue new grants, enter new contracts, or review existing applications during a shutdown. However, the Office of Research will continue to submit proposals to federal sponsors to the extent that proposal submission systems remain operable. The Office of Research will continue to monitor communications and information about the shutdown to keep faculty and research staff informed. Sponsored research activities should continue unless we receive official notification otherwise. If you have questions, please contact the Howard University Office of Research at research@howard.edu.

Student Internships 

How will a federal shutdown impact my student internship? 

We understand that one of the many benefits of attending Howard University is the opportunity to gain invaluable experience interning with a federal agency or elected official. If a federal shutdown does happen, students should contact their internship supervisor to see how their position may be impacted. Students can also contact their campus internship coordinator to see if the shutdown’s impact on internship credit. 

We understand that possibility of a shutdown can create a sense of uneasiness. If a shutdown occurs, we will provide regular updates to the campus community through the duration of the federal government's closure to ensure you have the most up-to-date information available.   For further information regarding access to resources and support in the event of a shutdown, please see the U.S. Office of Management and Budget's contingency plan