USC seeks state funding for online college, expanded summer school

ashain@thestate.comJanuary 30, 2013 

The University of South Carolina asked for lawmakers money for a new online college and expanded summer semester on Wednesday.

South Carolina President Harris Pastides made one point clear to a House Ways and Means subcommittee that should come as a relief to students and parents: "A large tuition increase will not be in our plans."

USC’s tuition hike this year, 3.15 percent, was the smallest since 1999. Tuition has more than more than doubled since 2002.

The USC system has requested $40.7 million for new projects and repairs.

The university wants to keep getting $5 million a year for its online Palmetto College that will allow students to complete up to their last two years of school work. USC already gets about $2.9 million each year for the program that starts in the fall but needs another $2.1 million to become permanent.

Pastides told lawmakers star Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore, who is leaving school early to go pro this year, could use the Palmetto College to complete his degree.

The school seeks $5 million a year for a new, expanded summer semester that is a cornerstone in the school’s “On Your Time” graduation initiative. South Carolina wants to give students more flexibility in class scheduling as enrollment has swelled by 5,600 students over the past decade.

A pilot expanded summer semester will start this year. The governor’s executive budget recommended $1.25 million.

State Rep. Chip Limehouse, a Charleston Republican who chairs the House higher education budget subcommittee, said he supports the Palmetto College and expanded summer school.

USC also requested $22.25 million if deferred maintenance across nine campuses, including $15 million in Columbia to add much-needed classroom space to Hamilton College. The governors budget called for $6.8 million system-wide.

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