Embattled South Carolina State University is enjoying a reprieve after an onslaught of problems that threatened its very existence.
In February, lawmakers suggested shuttering the state’s only historically Black university for at least one year in order to deal with the school’s staggering financial situation. The university’s debt was projected to balloon to more than $23 million by summer 2015, and student enrollments have dropped by 40 percent since 2007, according to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.
The school’s financial mess put its accreditation at risk.
Last month, Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill dissolving the then-current board of the university. The school’s president, Thomas Elzey, was fired in March.
More recently, however, the dark clouds covering the institution have begun to clear. The S.C. Budget and Control Board last week granted SCSU an extension of a $6 million loan that was to be repaid by June 30. The university now has until 2020 to repay the loan.
University leaders say the five-year extension gives them room to breathe as they continue to work on stabilizing the institution’s finances.
“South Carolina State University has cleared another hurdle as it makes strides to become financially solvent,” Acting President W. Franklin Evans said in a statement.
The school was also given an extension of its accreditation. The Southern Commission on Colleges and Schools put the school on probation a year ago, and could have chosen to revoke its accreditation this month. It decided, however, to extend the school’s probationary period by another 12 months.
The extended accreditation usually occurs if: “The institution has demonstrated significant recent accomplishments in addressing non-compliance,…has provided evidence which makes it reasonable for the Board to assume it will remedy all deficiencies within a 12-month period, and…the institution has provided assurance to the Board that it is not aware of any other reasons, other than those identified by the Board, why the institution cannot be continued for good cause,” according to the decision posted on the accrediting body’s website.
“SC State University is open for business and we are here to stay,” Evans said at the time of the announcement.