March 1, 2013
Dear University of Maryland community:
Today, the $85 billion across-the-board federal spending cuts to defense and discretionary domestic programs — known as “sequestration” — are expected to go into force amid the continuing fiscal impasse in Washington, D.C.
It will directly affect two critical areas of the University: financial aid and funded research. Although the full impact of the cuts may not be clear for a few months, we are prepared to redeploy our limited resources to help tide over, as best we can, those who are most vulnerable to the financial consequences of sequestration.
Reductions in federal work-study aid will affect over 200 of our undergraduates. The most at risk are in Maryland Pathways, a program that assists academically talented students from low-income backgrounds. To them, the University of Maryland offers this assurance: you will not have to leave the University in the coming year because of sequestration. We will find private funds to replace the lost aid, so that the current federal budget stalemate does not derail your education.
Sequestration will affect in different ways the approximately 1,500 graduate research assistants and 2,300 research faculty and staff whose salaries are supported partly or wholly by grants from over a dozen federal funding agencies. The University will work with colleges and research centers to help buffer, on a case-by-case basis, the varying impacts of cuts by different agencies. To our research assistants who are jeopardized by sequestration, the University will find ways to provide you with temporary bridge support. We want you to stay on track with your graduate education.
We do not yet know the full force of federal austerity on Maryland’s economy, which is heavily dependent on federal and military spending. Therefore, we do not yet know the ripple effects on the state’s budget for higher education next year. Meanwhile, we continue to work with our elected officials in Annapolis to keep the tuition increase low; to fund salary merit increases that we have not had in four years; and to support expanded enrollments in science and engineering.
I will keep you informed as sequestration and the state budget process unfold. We are a campus family. We must stand together to help each other through these difficult and uncertain times. I am confident that our nation, our state, and our university will come through this latest round of fiscal brinkmanship.
Wallace D. Loh
President, University of Maryland