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State Fiscal Failures Put CSU Accreditation Status at Risk

7/19/2016, midnight | Updated on 7/19/2016, midnight
The Illinois Budget crisis continues to adversely affect some of our states social services and valued state institutions. Chicago State ...
Chicago State President, Dr. Thomas Calhoun is firm in his belief that CSU will overcome this financial impasse and remain an accredited university. Photo courtesy of Chicago State University

State Fiscal Failures Put CSU Accreditation Status at Risk

By Monique Smith

The Illinois Budget crisis continues to adversely affect some of our states social services and valued state institutions. Chicago State University continues to be victimized as a result of Governor Bruce Rauner’s inability and willingness to get a budget passed.

On June 30th, the Higher Learning Commission sanctioned CSU and placed the university on Notice due to the current financial challenges the university is facing.

The Higher Learning Commission is the agency that oversees Illinois public colleges and universities.

It has the authority to give or take away a schools accreditation status.

This is especially important because students attending a non-accredited school cannot get federal financial aid nor can they transfer class credits to a college or university that is accredited.

Being put on NOTICE is a serious matter. It means that the university’s accreditation status is at risk. A HLC team reviewed Chicago State in late March and then requested that the school respond to the findings by December of this year. HLC will re-evaluate the school on those criteria next spring at its June 2017 meeting and decide whether to lift the sanction or enact other penalties.

According to CSU, the university received a letter in July from the HLC stating the following; “Despite steps taken by the university to respond to the challenges precipitated by the Illinois State budget impasse, difficulties continue to pose a risk to the University’s ability to remain in compliance with the HLC’s criteria for accreditation related to financial resources and planning.”

Chicago State just recently escaped collapse because of the budget crisis and was saved with the State releasing $20.1 million in stop-gap funding and a prorated share of MAP funds in the amount of $2.5 million, but it’s not enough.

The HLC letter goes on to cite the following: “The institution’s financial situation in FY2016 has been unstable due to the state budget impasse.” The letter further stated, “As of the date of this action, the State of Illinois has yet to pass a comprehensive state budget for either FY2016 or FY2017, thus further exacerbating the financial challenges and lack of financial predictability.” The Board required that the University … provide evidence that the University is no longer at risk for noncompliance with the criteria … identified in this action and that

it has ameliorated the issues that led to the Notice sanction,” Gellman-Danley wrote.

President Calhoun said, “While we are disappointed to receive Notice, we will continue to work diligently to rectify the concerns identified. We are accredited, we are resilient and we will forge ahead. Our University Foundation will continue to work aggressively raise funds for the institution,” he said.

CSU’s 4,500 mostly black, low-income, nontraditional students and staff have suffered most with the threat of closure and layoffs this summer. CSU has maintained full accreditation for the past 75 years.