Budget impasse puts Illinois university, college accreditation under review

Local college and university presidents say the Illinois budget impasse is hurting your child’s education.

Students stood with school and community leaders Tuesday to call for an end to the eight month stalemate among state legislators.

Nearly every university and community college has already been forced to make layoffs and cut programs because of a lack of state funding. However things could get worse with the potential of more cuts on the way.

After putting her son through college, Mary Margaret Kelly decided it was time she went back to school.

"It was just a lifelong dream," said Kelly. "I was successful in my career, but I wanted to get to the next level."

The Monetary Award Program grant funding made her dream a reality.

"I had put away savings, and I used all I could of my savings, but in this last year I ran into some difficulties," said Kelly.

Now she fears that schools may do away with MAP grants because the state isn’t paying the bills.

"It just doesn’t make any sense," said Kelly.

Recently, colleges and universities across the state received a letter saying their accreditation was being reviewed by the Higher Learning Commission. That could be bad news not only for Southern Illinois University, but community colleges like John A. Logan could lose their federal funding without the accreditation.

"If we don’t get the funding from the state of Illinois, then it’s going to be hard to remain accredited through the Higher Learning Commission," said John A. Logan President Ron House.

"For the time being we’re just doing our best to keep everything together," said SIU President Randy Dunn.

In the meantime, Dunn and House say potential students are heading out of state.

"You can go to Indiana, Kentucky, or Missouri and not have to go very far," said House. "You can almost commute to do that. The federal funds in those states are available."

That could cause schools to follow the lead of Chicago State University and eventually close their doors if they can’t make payroll.

We reached out to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office about Illinois schools potentially losing accreditation. We received this response:

"The governor cares deeply about the fiscal health of all of state universities. The fact remains that they could all be funded tomorrow if the Democrats in the legislature supported HB 4539/SB 2349. That bill would fund MAP grants, community colleges and all of Illinois’ public universities while giving the governor the authority to respond to an unbalanced budget by reallocating funds and reducing spending in a number or ways."

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