MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House of Representatives passed an amended version of a Senate bill on Thursday that would create a loan program for higher education institutions experiencing financial hardship like the beleaguered Birmingham-Southern College (BSC).

Senate Bill 278 (SB278), also called the Distressed Institutions of Higher Education Revolving Loan Program, would create the loan program administered by the State Treasurer. To be eligible, the college must have operated in the state for over 50 years, be experiencing financial hardship that could lead to the institution's closure, and have assets sufficient to pledge as collateral.

The sum of $30 million is earmarked for the loan program in the education supplemental budget.

The bill is sponsored by two Jefferson County Delegates, State Sens. Roger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) and Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills). Jefferson County Representative Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham) presented it to the house.

According to Givan, the BSC situation served as the catalyst, but it would help other colleges in similar financial straits.

In December 2022, BSC officials announced in a press release that the private college would seek a combination of federal funding the state oversees with state, city and county funding amounting to $37.5 million.

In the aftermath, Jefferson County lawmakers scrambled to assemble a bailout to keep the college afloat.

State Rep. Matt Simpson introduced an amendment to sunset the bill at the term end of current State Treasurer Young Boozer. It would revert any unused funds back into the Education Trust Fund after the bill sunsets and give Boozer the ability to negotiate contracts and administer the loans.

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