Correction: This story has been modified from its original version. — The sequestration will cut $85.4 billion from the federal budget. The Collegiate Times regrets this error.
The dooms-day automatic spending cuts, commonly called sequestration, went into effect on March 1, not only taking away $85.4 billion from the federal budget, but potentially limiting job prospects for Virginia Tech graduates as well.
The major areas of cuts to the state budget include military, education, public health and, especially important to Tech, potential cuts to work-study programs and research grants.
Mark Owczarski, with University Relations, said no one is really sure how the effects of sequestration will be felt at Tech.
“Virginia Tech could very well be impacted by this, in ways that we’ll see in the coming days, weeks and months,” Owczarski said.
Eighty percent of the $450 million that goes into research at Tech is funded by federal grants. That money could be affected by sequestration and will vary by individual government institutions. Grant funders could ask for money back or lower the amount of money given out to institutions such as Tech.
“It’s really just too early to tell,” Owczarski said. “Every grant will have its own story on how we will treat it.”
But for those who will not be at school much longer, the noticeable effects could be even worse.
Kevin Shedlick, a senior international studies and geography double major, has decided to postpone his job search for a government position and head into graduate school instead.
“I had applied to some internships within the state department and intelligence community, and once the sequestration took effect, they actually called me to say they were going to have to cancel their internship programs for the summer,” Shedlick said.
And Shedlick is not the only one distressed. He said his co-worker already had a planned internship over the summer with a government agency in D.C., and they cancelled it completely.
“It made me decide to go into graduate school instead of the job force. It’s just not a good time and would be hard to find a job,” Shedlick said. He is hoping by the time he finishes graduate school the job force will be better suited for government jobs and agencies.
Charles Taylor, director of undergraduate studies for the political science department, says President Barack Obama had used a “scare tactic” in order to persuade action from Congress and prevent sequestration from happening. However, it did not work.
“Sequestration is really going to be noticed by people," Taylor said. "You can’t cut that much out of a state’s budget without it being noticed. That’s going to make a real difference for people, especially in Northern Virginia and Tidewater.”
But Taylor also reinforced what Owczarski said — that no one really knows what it will mean just yet.
“One of the real problems is we don’t know exactly what will be affected,” Taylor said.
Governor Bob McDonnell sent a letter to Obama and Virginia's congressional delegates saying Virginia is already feeling the adverse effects of the sequestration.
“When fully implemented, they could force Virginia and other states into a recession,” he said in his letter.
With extreme budget cuts, many are worried that Virginia’s economy and job force will not be able to recover from the massive deficits that are being put in place.
“Armageddon really is here,” Taylor said.
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