SIU system facing financial woe of 'crisis proportion'

SIU system facing financial woe of 'crisis proportion'
(Source: Giacomo Luca, KFVS)
(Source: Giacomo Luca, KFVS)

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - The Southern Illinois University system is a facing financial crisis that the SIU System President Randy Dunn said he's not seen in his more than 30 years working in education.

The university hasn't received funds from the state because Illinois has been in a budget impasse since July 2015.

"We're going into uncharted waters and at this point, half-way through the fiscal year, it's become a situation now that is of crisis proportion," Dunn said.

Dunn said without appropriations from the state in the coming months, the university could face financial problems that could take years to pay back.

"It will take us years to dig out from that if the state doesn't fulfill its commitment," Dunn said.

"We're going to have to figure out a means to pay back about $200 million in operations and about $46 million or so in student aid and grants and contracts we typically have from the state," Dunn said.

In an effort to continue operating through the budget impasse, the Southern Illinois University System enacted cost saving measures such has hiring and spending freezes in July.

The system has also been borrowing funds from reserve accounts and other revenue accounts within the university.

As a larger institution, Dunn said SIU has some flexibility in continuing operations despite the impasse.

"We have to have this appropriation at some time in the fiscal year and has to be as close to a full appropriation as possible," Dunn said.

Dunn said the institution cannot continue operating normally after June 30, 2016 without appropriations from the state.

If the state releases funds, Dunn said they would immediately go toward paying back internal accounts where funds were borrowed from.

"The failure to enact a state appropriation would be disastrous for SIU," Dunn said. "We will limp through to June 30 without closing our doors, interrupting operations, having to furlough individuals or anybody else. Not all of our sister state universities are going to be able to do that."

Since Fall 2015 the university has been fronting the bill for thousands of students receiving the Illinois MAP Grant and will continue to foot the bill until Spring. However, Dunn said if the state does not fulfill its promise to Illinois students receiving the need based grant, they could be forced to foot the bill.

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