The impact of the federal government shutdown, which went into effect Oct. 1, 2013, in the absence of an agreement on a federal budget bill, will depend on the length of the shutdown.

The greatest immediate impact will be on the U.S. Department of Education itself, with 94 percent of its employees being furloughed. With so few remaining on the job, administrative processes will be hampered and the timing of federal payments to districts, for example, could be affected.

Schools should be able to continue to provide meals through the federal school lunch program at least through October, and programs relying on federal funds should not be affected for at least the first week of the month.

It’s worth noting that the U.S. government has shut down, at least to some extent, 17 times since 1977, usually without a notable impact on public schools, as the shutdowns typically have lasted no more than three days. However, an extended shutdown could create problems in many programs.

If the shutdown continues beyond the first week of October, payments under grant programs, including Title I funds, could be affected. Their continuance would depend, at least in part, on the local school district’s ability to make up the cash flow without the federal funds.

Beyond the classroom, families may be affected in other ways, including delays of loan approvals, potential delays in military payments, and the immediate closing of national parks and museums.

What should not be affected (for now): mail delivery, air travel, and benefit payments such as Social Security and Medicare.

See also:

How government shutdown will affect public schools (The Washington Post)

Projected Impact to LEAs from Potential Federal Government Shutdown (TEA letter to administrators)