IBHE promises options for Lincoln College students from underrepresented groups

The deputy executive director of the Illinois Council on Higher Education said when a college closes, there are disproportionate impacts on students of color. And most of the students at Lincoln College, which is soon to close, are black.

Stephanie Bernoteit said it was a very disruptive event, even with the best results.

“We are seeing that there are difficulties in some cases transferring their credits, completing their studies. We are seeing in some cases that students may not be fully informed on how to access loan release student,” Bernoteit said.

Loan forgiveness for students from a closing college goes through the US Department of Education. It may be possible to get a loan forgiveness if a student from a closing institution transfers to another college.

Bernoteit said around 1,000 Lincoln College students will have to go through a lot, adding that there will be one-on-one assistance to transfer to another institution.

“There will be a transfer fair for students so that they can receive in-person assistance from representatives of these institutions on their campuses in mid-April,” she said.

And since many students are not from Lincoln, she said there will be geographic diversity at the host institutions.

“There will be options in the Chicagoland area, and I think student choice in this process, which is certainly very disruptive and unexpected for learners, is really important. The intent is to provide an array of options “, Bernoteit said.

Part of the disproportionate impact on college closures among students from underrepresented groups, Bernoteit said, is because those students disproportionately attend for-profit institutions that tend to have higher costs. higher and more sudden collapses when they fall back.

“I urge the accreditation of IBHE and Lincoln College, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), to ensure that students are not directed to predatory, for-profit colleges to complete their education and that every effort is made to provide them with options in quality public, non-profit institutions that are geographically convenient, said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.

For years, Durbin has criticized for-profit institutions and called for greater federal oversight of this sector of higher education.

Bernoteit said one of the important parts of developing so-called education plans is considering the tuition and other costs associated with completing a transfer.

“Often, as part of this, host institutions will make special arrangements for student financial aid so that students are protected as much as possible in this difficult process,” Bernoteit said, noting that the IBHE plays also a coordinating role with other agencies.

“We are also working with the Illinois Office of the Attorney General and its Student Loans Ombudsman to ensure that students can access the Office of the Attorney General’s Student Loans Hotline for questions regarding their loans. students. And we also partner with the Community College Board and the Illinois Student Aid Commission on options for students in our community college system, as well as funding for MAP grants and other matters” , Bernoteit said.

IBHE will take care of student transcripts and other records in case graduates need copies even years from now.

“These things have very long-term drag effects. Sometimes individuals do not need a transcript until, for example, they change careers, pursue higher education, or perhaps need to renew a professional license in a new state,” Bernoteit said.

For students graduating from an institution that is closing, there may also be a stigma initially attached to that degree as if it came from a failed college.

“Students graduating in May of this year from Lincoln College can rest assured. They are graduates of an accredited institution of higher education. Although this institution is not there as they knew it, as they walked across the stage, their degree has value and will continue to have value in the future,” Bernoteit said.

And over time, the loss in value of the degree lessens as the shutdown fades from public consciousness.

Another part of the value of a college degree is the alumni network maintained and facilitated by the institution. The connections provided by the network, Bernoteit acknowledged, are not present for a closed college or university.

“Although the institution is not there to support alumni networks, alumni themselves still have the opportunity to support fellow graduates informally through social media and other opportunities. It will be different, no doubt. But it is an institution with a long history and alumni who feel strong ties not just to the place but to each other,” she said.

At least five Illinois colleges have failed since 2016: MacMurray, Robert Morris and Shimer among them. But Bernoteit said the IBHE had worked on 60 closures and consolidations during that period. Some institutions centered in other states had presences in Illinois which they terminated, although the original institution may have survived. She said they have a team of 10 people working to ease the path for students with three people assigned to each institution.

“The pandemic has really exacerbated a number of challenges that higher education has faced in recent years,” Bernoteit said, including the changing demographics of those attending college, smaller high school graduating classes and family income.

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