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Education

NIU, 3 other Illinois universities' credit rating lowered

SPRINGFIELD – A credit-rating agency has downgraded the credit worthiness of some financial aspects of four Illinois universities, including Northern Illinois.

Moody's Investors Service noted the schools' heavy reliance on state money for operating expenses.

Schools affected are Northern Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University and Northeastern Illinois University.

The universities were placed under review for possible downgrade after Moody's downgraded the state's financial outlook to negative from stable in December. On Tuesday, it noted the schools' dependence on state funding and financial stress put on the universities by delayed state payments.

Rating agencies put Illinois credit among the worst of any state largely because of an ongoing $97 billion funding gap in state employee pension systems.

NIU is the state's third-largest university.

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