Chicago State University faces money crisis due to state budget stalemate (video)

By Brooke Rayford

The overdue state budget has begun to have a negative effect on colleges and private universities across the state of Illinois.

By the beginning of March, Chicago State University may face major cuts that could impact students and faculty.

State funding comprises 30 percent of university’s budget. Without those dollars, the school has relied on its own reserved funds to function this academic year and keep students enrolled.

The university says it takes five million dollars a month for the school to operate. The second semester began last Tuesday and the school has only about nine million dollars left, according to Paris Griffin, Chicago State’s Student Government President.

Griffin said students received an email about the school’s financial difficulties before the semester began. CSU has had financial burdens before, but never to the point that library and tutoring hours could be cut. Employees could lose their jobs and students could drop out of school.

On January 9th, more than 100 students and CSU faculty participated in a protest on the South side  to try to get the government’s attention to restore funding to the university.

Campus leader Dave Flynn said students continue to meet for strategy sessions, so that the next action will be more effective than the last.

“You’re really affecting the growth of society by playing with somebody’s education…pass the budget we need this money,” Flynn said.

“A lot of our students are parents, a lot of our students have jobs,” said Griffin. “A lot of our students are here to push themselves to the next level. So our university is really needed. We can not let out doors close.”

State Senator Pat McGuire — who chairs the  Senate Higher Education committee — proposed a bill last week that will release $168 million in MAP (Monetary Award Program) grants. Many CSU students depend on these state grants to pay tuition and fees.

In a telephone interview, McGuire said he wants to “encourage CSU students (to continue) to tell the governor that they want to do more in their lives, they want to do more for the state of Illinois and obtaining a college degree is necessary.” And he urged Gov. Bruce Rauner to support the bill.

Rauner, a Republican, has been in a stalemate over the budget with Democrats in the State Assembly, and has suggested that the impasse may not be resolved until the spring.

Photo at top: Students of Chicago State University participate in protest to receive state funding for their school. (By Dave Flynn/CSU student leader and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.)