Impasse to impact federal college funds next

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ILLINOIS — Colleges around the state are facing financial woes. Just Monday night, Eastern Illinois University announced it’s laying off nearly 200 people.

The accrediting agency for public universities and colleges says the lack of state funding is putting campuses at risk. This time, it’s federal funding which could be taken away.

The agency is asking for explanations if schools are forced to close. The Higher Learning Commission sent a letter to more than 50 public schools. They’re asking if any campus closes in the next several months, officials must explain how it will ensure students can continue their educations elsewhere.

All schools were asked to provide the information by February 18. Basic financial information, including the current cash situation, cuts in faculty and staff and expectations for fall enrollment are all being measured.

The agency will use the information to determine if schools can remain accredited. If not, students can’t get federal financial assistance. It means students are at risk of having their credits be rejected by other schools.

In a separate letter, the Higher Learning Commission asked the governor and legislative leaders to consider how the budget impasse is affecting students and the future of Illinois’ public higher education system. If accreditation is withdrawn, it takes several years to try to have it reinstated.

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