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Latest Blow To NEIU: A Downgrade To 'Junk' Credit Status

(CBS) – Junk status -- that's what a major credit agency considers the creditworthiness of Northeastern Illinois University, which continues to be embroiled in the state budget crisis.

CBS 2's Charlie De Mar takes a closer look at what this means for other major state universities.

The credit downgrade from Moody's Investor Service came Tuesday.

"Are we junk bonds? My students aren't junk bonds. I'm not a junk bond," says Nanette Potee, an NEIU professor and legislative chair for the union representing professors and faculty.

"What that means to me and to students is that the state doesn't want to invest in education."

Meanwhile, six other public universities will be evaluated for downgrades in the coming months.

This comes following the stalemate in Springfield over the state budget impasse. A "stopgap" bill last year gave some money to schools, but no state funds have reached universities this year.

Ted Dabrowski is with the fiscally conservative watchdog group Illinois Policy Institute.

"The real problem is that the universities are just too bloated, they are too expensive and they've priced themselves out of the reach of most kids," he says.

NEIU's interim president offered this response to the downgrade.

"The downgrade is very disappointing but not surprising. This is really a reflection of Springfield's inaction regarding the state's budget."

NEIU shut down the campus during spring break and furloughed employees. Next week, faculty and students will be loading up on buses and voicing their concerns in Springfield.

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