BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey will not support the use of state tax dollars to assist financially ailing Birmingham-Southern College, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

“The state has no plans to use the taxpayers’ public funds to bail out a private college,” spokeswoman Gina Maiola said in a statement to al.com.

The private liberal arts college in Birmingham is seeking state financial help after years of deficits and declining enrollment.

The Rev. Keith Thompson, chairman of the Birmingham-Southern Board of Trustees, wrote a letter to college supporters encouraged alumni to continue pushing for state support.

“The BSC Board of Trustees faces making history-changing decisions that will impact the lives of so many people. One of our biggest challenges is the need to make a decision soon versus the timing of the Montgomery budget process. Knowing whether BSC will receive one-time bridge funding from the state is vital information we need to make the best decision,” Thompson wrote.

The college’s board is scheduled to meet April 5. Alabama lawmakers return from spring break next week to work on state budgets for the fiscal year that begins in October, as well as supplemental appropriations for this year.

Southern University, which was founded in 1856 in Greensboro, Alabama, merged with Birmingham College in 1918 to become Birmingham-Southern, with a campus west of downtown Birmingham.

Small private colleges nationwide are struggling with a decreasing number of traditional college-aged students and competition from larger, richer institutions. Judson College, a women’s college, shuttered its campus in Marion in 2021.