Birmingham-Southern College is a private college in Alabama whose roots in the state trace back more than 160 years. It grew from the 1918 merger of Southern University and Birmingham College — both of which had opened in the mid-1800s. However, the college has fallen into dire financial straits over the past decade or so, depleting its endowment along the way. Earlier this year, Alabama lawmakers appeared to throw the institution a lifeline by establishing a loan program for distressed colleges and funding it with $30 million. The college hoped to use the loan as bridge funding while it pursued a $200 million endowment campaign.