Illinois' Community Colleges struggle with late state payments - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Illinois' Community Colleges struggle with late state payments

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By Arnold Wyrick - bio | email

HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) - The State of Illinois is currently running about six months in payments to community colleges.

And it's adding up to hundreds of millions in dollars in unpaid bills at the state's 48 community colleges.

At Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg, Illinois they're still waiting on nearly $3-million in state funds.

"We really don't want to reduce programs for students," said Dr. Jonah Rice, President  Southeastern Illinois College. "Obviously the biggest strain is on our staff. We have a phenomenal staff at Southeastern, they're very committed. But it's a strain when you can't replace some positions that have to remain open, simply because you're worried about cash flow management."

The state's payment problems are also taking a toll on operations at John A. Logan Community College in Carterville, Illinois.

"We have planned for about $12.7-million in state funding throughout the course of the year," said Steve O'Keefe director of community relations and marketing. "To date we've received one payment. That was at the end of October for a little more than $200- thousand. So we're owed a considerable amount of money."

So far neither one of the colleges have cut programs for students. But some students are feeling the state's financial woes in other ways, with their lack of financial aide.

"They've told me that my MAP Grant is going to be coming in later this semester or next semester," said Nicole Clark of Carbondale. "It's helping me with my living expenses. But not being able to have it now means that I have to start cutting out things. And I'm not going to be able to pay my bills on time, or my rent on time. It's going to hurt a lot."

The financial outlook for the State of Illinois and it's community colleges isn't looking any better anytime soon.

"It makes it hard, like I said we've planned for it because it's become the norm," said O'Keefe. "But it's difficult it really is. And to be honest with you it's very frustrating."

"We have to keep tuition rates low. And we just have to live very frugally," said Dr. Rice. "Over the past decade I don't recall them being this far behind. So it's very tricky."

The community colleges in Illinois should have received $168.7-million halfway through the current fiscal year. So far they've only received $33.2-million, or about twenty percent of what's owed to them.





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