The state's budget impasse soon may affect more than just overall funding for higher education.
The Higher Learning Commission, which accredits schools in the Midwest, recently sent a letter to state lawmakers and the governor urging them to pass a budget. The HLC says that, without state funding, Illinois universities are at risk of losing their accreditation. SIU President Randy Dunn said that could be catastrophic.
"The big 'get' with having accreditation is access to federal financial aid, student loan opportunities," he said. "Typically, if you're going to have any kind of grant or contract from state or federal government -- or even private providers -- you have to be an accredited institution."
Dunn says lack of accreditation could also make it difficult to hire faculty. The HLC points to higher tuition and fee rates, declining enrollment, and faculty and staff layoffs as direct effects of the budget standoff. Universities across Illinois haven't received any state funding since last year, and previous stopgap funds haven't been enough to hold off faculty and staff cuts and other reductions at several campuses.