May 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Lincoln College closing its doors, citing COVID-19 and ransomware attack

Two vintage television sets sit above a chalkboard inside a classroom.
Photo: Jessica Christian/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Lincoln College in Illinois is closing its doors on Friday after 157 years of operation due to financial strains from the pandemic and a ransomware attack last year.

Why it matters: The small private college's reality underscores the deepening financial strains that the pandemic is having on institutions of higher education.

Driving the news: "The economic burdens initiated by the pandemic required large investments in technology and campus safety measures, as well as a significant drop in enrollment with students choosing to postpone college or take a leave of absence, which impacted the institution’s financial position," the university wrote in an announcement.

  • The university also said that a cyberattack in December 2021 "thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data, creating an unclear picture of Fall 2022 enrollment projections."
  • "Once fully restored in March 2022, the projections displayed significant enrollment shortfalls, requiring a transformational donation or partnership to sustain Lincoln College beyond the current semester."

The big picture: Lincoln College is one of only a few rural American colleges that qualify as predominantly Black institutions by the Department of Education, NBC News reports.

  • "Lincoln College has survived many difficult and challenging times — the economic crisis of 1887, a major campus fire in 1912, the Spanish flu of 1918, the Great Depression, World War II, the 2008 global financial crisis, and more, but this is different," the university said in its announcement.
  • The college held its final commencement ceremony on Sunday.

Go deeper ... Private colleges across America can't pay their bills

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