Posted at: 02/22/2013 6:41 PM
By: Brittany Lewis
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- The recession left businesses across the country struggling financially and colleges are no different. For Crossroads College in Rochester, financial struggles could harm students, if the school loses accreditation.
Accreditation means the college maintains standards high enough so that when a student graduates from there, they could be accepted into another institution or achieve credentials for a job. Without this accreditation, the school would not qualify for federal financial aid dollars.
For 100 years, Crossroads College has educated students. But in a difficult economy, the Christian institution had a hard time recruiting students and charitable donations were on the decline.
"We are in the beginning stages of the appeal process,” Mike Kilgallin, President of Crossroads.
That appeal process comes after the school’s accrediting agency has threatened to drop their accreditation.
"To lose accreditation doesn't mean the school closes, but it does mean we have a more difficult financial climb,” said Kilgallin.
And it means a loss in financial aid dollars. Of the 140 students that are enrolled in the school, Kilgallin estimates 80-85% of them rely on financial aid.
"I felt like I was at home when I came to visit," said Haley Lang.
Lang is one of them. Without the help, she says college would be a struggle.
"I don't know if I would be able to afford to come to college,” said Lang.
The school is making progress in their financial battle.
"Right now crossroads is paying its bills, Crossroads is generating cash and paying debt and doing everything that you want a successful business to do,” said Kilgallin.
In 2007, the college was $5.7 million in debt, today, they’ve paid back about a million of that and are now working to pay back the $4.6 million they owe.
"We've had cutbacks, we have cut programming, we have frozen salaries, we've done just everything that we know to do. Reduced benefits in order to be financially responsible,” said Kilgallin.
Kilgallin says the college won’t give up,
"If our appeal was not successful we would move immediately to gain accreditation from another crediting body,” he said.
To make sure the students can come back.
"I don't want to go anywhere else, if I did it'd be really hard,” said Lang.
Kilgallin said the college is receiving a lot of community support. He says Mayor Brede wrote a letter in support of the college.