Officials at Chicago State University say the state budget impasse could force the school, which has been open for nearly 150 years, to shut down.
The school, more than other public universities, relies heavily on state funding, with 30 percent of its budget comes from state funding.
Chicago State’s student body is 80 percent African-American, many of them low income students.
“With a majority of students on financial aid, CSU is a lifeline for students whose social and economic mobility are too often stifled,” Shari Runner, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, said in a statement. “The looming closure of CSU reinforces unacceptable inequities in our schools and continues to shortchange children of color.”
Runner added that “right now, our legislators are failing us on all counts” and questioned if students at Chicago State “are being used as pawns in a high-stakes prolonged political chess match.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by students at the university.
“It seems almost as if we kind of get caught in a chess match that we weren’t supposed to be a part of,” said student Christopher Glenn.
Despite the school’s struggle, Gov. Bruce Rauner insists quality education is a priority for him.
“I ran for governor to do two things -- restore Illinois’ competitiveness so we could create huge economic growth and huge careers and have the best education system in America,” Rauner said Tuesday, “because that’s the key for everybody being able to maximize their potential income out of that system.”
The state’s budget impasse has lasted roughly seven months so far and there is concern that with the March primary the stalemate could continue through the November election.
School officials predict the university will run out of money in March.