While the Alabama Legislature’s plan to create a loan system for financially distressed institutions of higher education awaits the governor’s signature, Birmingham-Southern announced its intent to work with the treasurer for a loan on June 6.
Senate Bill 278 creates a system for the state treasurer to receive applications, negotiate, and grant loans to higher education institutions approaching closure. The bill initially passed on May 25, but the governor proposed an executive amendment to the bill that the Legislature concurred with on June 6. The amendment requires institutions applying for a loan to provide documents on a restructuring plan. It also clarifies that interest will be charged and the state has the first claim on any collateral.
Since the governor’s amendment passed, she will presumably sign the bill.
“You gotta have your books in order and your ducks in a row. It has to be transparent. There has to be accountability. If you can’t make the numbers work, you gotta figure it out yourself,” Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham, said. “I started this whole path and journey on their behalf with one simple thing: accountability and transparency.”
Givan — along with bill author Sen. J. T. ‘Jabo’ Waggoner, R-Shelby — began work on the bill after Daniel Coleman, president of Birmingham-Southern College, met with the Jefferson County delegation and asked for state aid.
If signed into law, the bill would not necessarily grant a loan. The final authority is left to the state treasurer, and Birmingham-Southern, or any institution, must negotiate a loan.
“The next step for BSC is to work with the state treasurer on an agreement that, along with additional funding from local government entities, will provide much-needed resources while we re-launch a philanthropic campaign,” Coleman said. “That campaign aims to raise a total of $200 million, which will make the College financially stable and resilient for the long term.”
Birmingham-Southern has secured $46 million of the $200 million goal through pledges for private donations. The full endowment would keep the school operational through May 2026, with 20 percent of their annual budget coming from the endowment.
“I am delighted to convey sincere thanks on behalf of the BSC community to everyone who became an advocate for the college, including many in legislative leadership who understood the contributions BSC makes to the economic and educational health of the state and its citizens,” Coleman said.