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University of Alabama System will waive application fees and expedite the transfer process for BSC students: Springhill is offering $5000 scholarships

The Birmingham Southern College (BSC) board of trustees voted unanimously to shut down the troubled liberal arts college at their meeting earlier this week when it became apparent that a bailout from the state of Alabama was not coming. Now the last remaining BSC students are struggling to figure out where they are going to complete their studies.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has stepped up to help. UAB is offering incentives for students looking to stay in the Birmingham area.

The University of Alabama System has promised to give special accommodations to BSC students seeking to transfer, including an expedited transfer process.

"Any Birmingham-Southern student interested in transferring to a UA System institution will receive waived application fees and expedited review and credit transfer processing, if eligible," the UA System said in a statement. "Each UA System institution will work with accepted students on an individual basis to create a competitive financial aid package to the greatest extent possible based on available funding and student eligibility."

Spring Hill College in Mobile is inviting BSC students to transfer to their campus and is offering BSC transfers a $5,000 scholarship.

"Dear Birmingham Southern students and families, It is hard to imagine the hurt you're feeling as you cope with the loss of a place you call home and the uncertainty you face in the next chapter of your college journey," Spring Hill President Mary H. Van Brunt wrote. "Our prayers are with you and those affected by this unexpected circumstance. As you look for a new college community, we'd like to invite you to explore Spring Hill College, the oldest institution of higher learning in Alabama. A faith-based institution, our campus is bustling with exciting student life, award-winning academic programs, and a caring team of faculty and staff ready to support you on your journey."

"Already one of the most affordable private colleges in the country, Spring Hill College is pleased to offer a $5,000 scholarship for BSC students who transfer," Van Brunt continued. "Grant Allen, our transfer admissions counselor, will work with you personally to help you with whatever you need. You can reach him at gallen@shc.edu or by phone at 251-380-3030. We invite you to visit our beautiful, 381-acre campus as soon as you can and hope you'll find your new home at Spring Hill."

"As a fellow institution of higher education, the University of Alabama System is grateful for Birmingham-Southern College's distinguished contributions over the past 168 years and is saddened by the college's recently announced closure," the UA statement continued. "The University of Alabama System is fully committed to supporting Birmingham-Southern students in this time of transition and ensuring they have the opportunity to remain in-state and receive an excellent educational experience. As such, the UA System will offer an expedited transfer process to all eligible students currently enrolled at Birmingham-Southern College. The expedited transfer process will be available at all UA System campuses – The University of Alabama, The University of Alabama at Birmingham and The University of Alabama in Huntsville."

UA is promising to waive application fees and expedited review and credit transfer processing, if eligible. UA promises to work with accepted students on an individual basis to create a competitive financial aid package to the greatest extent possible based on available funding and student eligibility.

Provost Laura K. Stutts said that the outgoing BSC administration is working to help the students transfer to other schools.

"We are putting students first, and we will do everything we can to help them find the best place to continue their path to graduation," said Provost Stultz. "We are working with other institutions – including those in the Associated Colleges of the South as well as some in-state colleges and universities -- on agreements that will help maximize the transfer of credits to keep them on track."

Daniel Coleman is the last President of Birmingham Southern College.

"We have 40 memoranda of understanding which generally means all of the credits will transfer, close to all," Coleman told the media. "Then we have several what's called 'teach-outs' which means all the credits will transfer."

The struggling college had been hemorrhaging students since the start of the COVID epidemic in 2020 and the forced economic shutdown so was down to about 500 students. There are only about 400 freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Most of the seniors will graduate in May. Other seniors will take online classes with other institutions to get the final credits needed for graduation.

BSC has operated in Birmingham for over a century.

BSC closes after an 18-month effort to get a $30 million bailout from the state. Legislators balked at giving the failing college a bailout; but did pass a $30 million loan program so that the State Treasurer could loan the college the funds. Governor Kay Ivey (R) signed that bill but after looking at the school's troubled finances State Treasurer Young Boozer (R) rejected BSC's loan application saying that the risk to the state was far too great. State Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) brought another bill changing the authorizer of the loan from the Treasurer to the state loan program to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education. That legislation passed the Senate with opposition; but is reportedly dead in the House of Representatives, despite bipartisan support from Reps. Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham) and David Faulkner (R-Mountain Brook).

When that reality was shared with the Board of Trustees they voted to close the college permanently. The students were on spring break so got the news while they were away from campus. Most of the employees will be terminated on the same day. The rest will be let go over the summer.

Birmingham-Southern College was formed in 1918 when Southern University (in Greensboro) merged with Birmingham College.

The state, the City of Birmingham, and Jefferson County are seeking a buyer for the campus so that the 190 acres on Arkadelphia Street does not become overrun by the homeless and criminal gangs. Officials are hopeful that another institution might be able to purchase the property from its creditors.

While the loss of BSC will have a substantial economic impact to the community, the Greater Birmingham community is still served by UAB, Samford University, and Miles College.

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