How Does the Partial Government Shutdown Impact the GW Community?

University officials provide guidance on the longest federal government shutdown in history.

White House
The South Portico entrance of the White House. (Photo: U.S. Department of State)
January 15, 2019

As President Donald Trump and members of Congress fail to reach a deal to reopen large portions of the federal government, the shutdown that started on Dec. 22 has now stretched into the longest in history.

Many members of the George Washington University community have been personally affected by the government shutdown. GW offers several resources for students, faculty and staff who may need assistance, either financially or emotionally. The university continues to operate normally and will continue to provide updates to our community as necessary.

Q: What should students know about the shutdown?
A: The shutdown will not affect students’ financial aid awards. Additionally, the majority of Federal Work Study student employees are not affected by the federal shutdown. Students who have been affected by the shutdown have been contacted by GW Student Employment. If you have questions regarding your employment status, please contact Career Services. Students and families who have questions about paying tuition should contact the Student Accounts Office at 202-994-7350 or [email protected].

For those students who may need other assistance, counselors and resources are available at the Colonial Health Center.

Q: What should faculty and staff know about the shutdown?
A: Faculty and staff who participate in GW’s 403(b) Supplemental Retirement Plan and are experiencing significant financial need may be eligible for a loan against their plan or a financial hardship withdrawal from their plan account. Employees can speak with a retirement consultant at any time to understand their current investment options. Contact GW’s Benefits Administration for more information at 703-726-8382 or [email protected], or contact GW’s retirement plan vendors directly at 1-800-343-0860 for Fidelity Investments or 1-800-842-2776 for TIAA-CREF.

For employees seeking financial or legal assistance, GW’s Wellbeing Hotline provides free access by phone to attorneys, certified public accountants and certified financial planners to help on a wide range of legal and financial concerns, including budgeting, getting out a debt, credit card and loan problems, bankruptcy and financial planning for emergencies.

Since financial concerns are a leading cause of stress, the Wellbeing Hotline also provides access to highly trained master’s- and doctoral-level clinicians to provide in-person counseling related to stress, relationship/marital conflicts, job pressure, grief and loss and more. The hotline can be accessed toll-free 24/7 at 1-866-522-8509.

Employees can also access a host of materials online related to the government shutdown, as well as more general help with personal issues, planning for life events or simply managing daily life as part of the Wellbeing Hotline.

Q: How will the partial government shutdown impact university research?
A: Researchers should have received guidance from the university on the status of sponsored research activities in early January. The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) continues to monitor the situation and any impacts on sponsored research activities. In the short-term, most awarded projects will be unaffected. Disruptions are possible if the sponsoring agency is without an FY2019 appropriation and the work requires the use of a federal facility or guidance from agency staff. It is important to note that no additional funds will be disbursed from impacted agencies until that agency reopens.

Not all federal agencies are affected. Review the lists below to determine if your sponsor is impacted by the shutdown.

For the duration of the shutdown, OVPR provides the following guidance:

  • Complete and submit all reports (technical, progress and financial) as scheduled, regardless of the agency’s funding status.
  • Adhere to all previously published proposal deadlines.
  • Alert OVPR if your project requires access to a federal facility that is no longer accessible to you or other GW project staff. (Documentation of these instances may be important to resolve issues that arise at a future date.)
  • Forward any shutdown related notice from your federal sponsor to [email protected].

If you have additional questions, please contact your school-based research administrator who can coordinate with OVPR as necessary. General questions or concerns can be addressed to [email protected].

Federal agencies whose FY2019 appropriations have been signed into law. The following agencies will not be impacted by a shutdown:

  • Department of Health and Human Services (including National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Veterans Affairs

Federal agencies without an FY2019 appropriation. Tasks requiring interaction with the following agencies could be impacted by a shutdown:

  • National Science Foundation
  • National Endowment for the Humanities
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Department of Commerce (including NIST and NOAA)
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Department of Interior
  • Department of State
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Smithsonian Institution (including all museums, research centers and the National Zoo)
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