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Congress took a step back from the fiscal cliff with its Jan. 1 vote on the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. Now, across-the-board cuts to discretionary spending required under the Budget Control Act of 2011 are set to take effect on March 1.

This budget sequester, as it’s known, could result in profound cuts for research funding, federal student aid and other non-defense discretionary spending. The effect could be significant for research universities like Carolina that receive a significant portion of overall funding for basic and translational research from the federal government. Of Carolina’s $767 million in research funding in fiscal 2012, $545 million came from federal funds.

Cuts in federal student aid could affect some of Carolina’s neediest students, particularly those who rely on federal work-study and students whose families are not able to contribute financially to their education.

UNC Research has outlined in detail how the budget sequestration will affect UNC and North Carolina.

“University research is big business in North Carolina, ” said Barbara Entwisle, vice chancellor of research at Carolina. “UNC-Chapel Hill alone brings in $767 million annually in research funding, primarily from federal sources. If sequestration takes effect we stand to lose $28 million in federal fiscal year 2013. A cut of that magnitude could cost the state more than 400 jobs this year and slow the search for new technologies, life-saving medical treatments and promising cures.”

Members of America’s academic research community are speaking out about the importance of funding for scientific and medical research. The Association of American Universities (AAU) has posted videos from dozens of its member institutions to illustrate the widespread impact these cuts could have if Congress doesn’t overturn them.

Joe DeSimone, Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry at Carolina and William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at N.C. State University and of Chemistry at Carolina, and director of Carolina’s Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, is among those speaking out on the issue. His voice is featured on the UNC Research site and on the AAU site.

Read more at UNC Research.

Published February 27, 2013. Updated February 28, 2013.